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Nota Bene Archive

Tolkien’s life
Saddam’s last novel
Safest U.S. big city
PowerPoint did it
Hector Berlioz
JenniCam R.I.P
Smithsonian lies
Nobel banquet
Lennon’s Imagine
Medical ghostwriters
Guns and butter
Frisky seniors
Fossil discovered
Stars and signs
Those Pesky Protocols
Picasso on a junket
Cold war coups
Jan Morris
Me? Anti-American?
Master/slave outrage
Oz: love it or leave it
Martin Amis on porn
Palm in Warsaw
Hating Britney
C.S. Lewis
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Life in Mosul
Movie cowboys
First wine
Flesh wounds
Lord of the Gold Ring
One-handed economist
Top ten scams
Mass extinctions
Where’s love?
Wesley Clark
Exhuming Petrarch
Royal scandal
Loïc Wacquant
Milton Friedman
Zbig’s speech
Drooling men
Wolfowitz’s Iraq
Edward Teller lab?
Hobsbawm remembers
What is I?
William Gibson
Pamela Anderson
Moving on
Ageing wine drinkers
Was Diana murdered?
Coming out
“Imperial America”
The new SAT
Bush hatred
Sex and health
$1m for the Bard
Shenzhou 5
Writers’ mistakes
Jhumpa Lahiri
Best bad poetry
“Oy” is in
Dear Leader’s sex life
Fuzzy logic
Escort girls
Thinkers and clerks
Aids in Africa
v. Dershowitz
Art for dummies
To change the world!
Oddest Hemingway
What’s in a name?
Oddest hotel
Survival of the dolts
BBC in trouble
Pit pruning
Bloom on King
Zen of Weeding
Rattled in Berlin
Sleek Baroque?
J. Lo’s posse
“Patriot Studies”
Iraq Museum news
Naked Yoko Ono
Heavy lifting
9/11 myths
Clueless cooks
Writing good leads
P.J. O’Rourke
Political musicians
Gary Coleman
NYC postcards
Orson Welles
Republican fundraisers
Old age and humor
Real Horatio Alger
French know how to eat
Feynman’s diagrams
Booze talking
Mozart non-effect
Great Sexpectations
Home despot
White girls, catcalls
Celebrity worship
Julian Schnabel
Dad’s road rage
As Paris burns
Yo, problematics!
Camille Paglia
Yogic danger
Lactation contest
The camel trade
Agoraphobic hens
The Nature of Men
Gay television
Contagious yawns
Fukuyama on WMD
Behind great women
Gigli recomposed
WMD theory
Terror futures, okay!
Dems in trouble
Nessie no more
Pay-to-read Web
Bob Dylan undone
Outta Cuba!
George W = Henry V?
The new nun
Jerry Springer
Writers need lies
The answer is “4”
Size matters
Zadie Smith
Prostate health
Italian butt pinching
Take a siesta
Lying and deceiving
Spam without end
Drunken authors
Addictive golf
Laleh and Ladan, R.I.P.
Bob Dylan, plagiarist?
Math for Martha
Porn addiction
Email addiction
BBQ contest
I mow, therefore I am
Pet painting
Beethoven’s Ninth
Better googling
Milk first
Joy of math
Bond at Dieppe
Saddam: Potter fan?
Einstein’s clock
Beethoven, Marxist?
Sperm counts
Doggie decor
G. H. von Wright
Name your baby
“James ossuary” fake
Beckham hairstyle
Priming the pomp
Baby watermelons
Vitamins of death
Gender’s last frontier
What Hillary meant
Sun Tzu’s stock picks
Wolfowitz on oil
Saddam in Russia?
Yankees, please stay!
Rumsfeld at Denny’s
Postmodern Bob Hope
Wolfowitz in Vanity Fair
Picasso in Paris
Smell me, ladies!
Geldof praises Bush?
Uday and Qusay
Hobsbawm v. Hitchens
No butt-flicking!
Lying wine lovers
Famous last notes
Amazon man
U.S. tortures Iraqis
Women and wine
Passive smoke: Okay!
Forked tongue
Bible code claptrap
Neocon con job
Modern wives
Fahrenheit 451 at 50
Dog lovers, unite!
Monkeys, typewriters
Wilde falsehoods
Orwell at 100
Copland vs. McCarthy
Brain privacy
The Leo-cons
U.N. looters
“Shut up!”
Sexy single senior
Vegetarian Delight
Dick Lit
Hula dancers wanted
Webbys canceled!
Classical pet hates
Clash of civilizations
Tobacco do-gooders
Cheap, cheap wine
Supermodel search
Civilians hanged
Theory’s death rattle
Farewell, Partisans
Sex and cooking
Iraqi marshes
Cancer as selection
Poincaré’s Conjecture
Dress patriotic
Jesus in Baghdad
Hit Saddam with a shoe
Castro’s fans
Günter Grass on Iraq
School for sex
Kirk Varnedoe
Prime number pairs
Iraqis beat UK troops
Sun Tzu, Shock and Awe
Smoke, food, freedom
E.O. Wilson
Human shields
Earth to Russell
Jargon of war
Bossy child
Drinking game
Jordan’s lucky break
Good art
“Come, Goshdarnit!”
Grassy knolls
California dreaming
Al Qaeda collapsing
Sex-toy salons
Lives of dictators
Trees pollute
Hitchens vs. Ireland
Luciano Pavarotti
Kinds of lit
Men only
Plain Language
Let’s eat
Stalin’s death
Sex cells
Iraq, Tchaikovsky
Life explained
Dear protesters...
Anger management
Lord of the Rings
The Stingy Brain
Lesbian monkeys
Joy of Sex
Mona Lisa smile
Richard Dawkins
Matisse vs Picasso
Historians on Iraq
Peter Singer and me
Global coal fires
Toe-picking masses
The Three Stooges
France, Germany, Iraq
Darwin Day
Thomas Kinkade
Strauss and solitude
P.C. foam insulation
Buchwald on Jackson
Space and ambition
Filming Derrida
Air miles for cellos!
Name game
Booing at the Met
Young and chubby
Toys for Pigs
Standing ovations
Skeptic pitied
Saddam’s murders
What the famous read
McDonald’s fat lawsuit
Lomborg on critics
Pedophile hysteria
Norman Mailer is 80
What killed Napoleon?
Qaddafi’s makeover
Mickey Mouse law
Starbucks rulz?
Chinese takeouts
The Mozart Effect
Beer’s good for you
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Baghdad ballet tots
False divide
Frum on Bush
Hershey’s fat payout
More sex, big brain
Forbidden fruits
What kills us
Worst blurbs 2002
Junk science 2002
David Riesman
Resolution time
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School needs not just to teach math, science, and reading, but also must, in Huck Finn’s term, “sivilize” young people... more»
Start your fiction, says Harry Mulisch, from a fantastic but not improbable fact. Art has to go from there down to a thick social reality... more»
Cultural theory can’t afford to keep on with the same old narratives of class, race, and gender, says Terry Eagleton. Okay, so then what?... more»
A militarist monster, forged in late Meiji from Japanese nativism and German racial theories, was alive well before Pearl Harbor... more»
Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis turns on one of the most momentous cultural events of human history: the artistic and literary representation of everyday life... more»
If novelty helps sell art, scandal is even better. Was Huck Finn gay? Did sister Fanny actually write Mendelssohn’s works? Charles Rosen laments... more»
Critical realism rescues us from the postmodernist nightmare and gives us back reality. We need a concept of truth – and science is not just another myth... more»
The price of action against North Korea will likely be high, the price of inaction much higher. We can’t every decade keep relearning the lesson of Pearl Harbor... more»
“Orwellian” means manipulation of language to deceive the public. The word should also suggest bravery and idealism, George Orwell’s stubborn honesty... more»
Cookbooks are a bit like sex books in requiring a perfection on the part of the reader. Julian Barnes knows what a fallible cook he is. It makes him a better guide... more»
Animals, including us, get pleasure from things that promoted fitness for ancestors. Food and sex, to be sure. But what of aesthetic pleasure? From Plato to Pinker... more»
Helas! France needs the EU to be an instrument of its national grandeur. France is starting to realize that this isn’t going to work – and it has no Plan B... more»
“Merciless toward the failings of democracies but ready to tolerate the worst crimes committed in the name of proper doctrines.” Ah yes, intellectuals... more» ... more»
Leo Strauss was a great believer in the usefulness of lies in politics. Like Plato and Nietzsche, he thought the unwashed masses were not fit for truth... more»
The culture of therapy, with its low-grade vision of human achievement, is a great vice of our age. Life doesn’t make us ill. Friends are better than therapists... more»
The “Nascar Dad” represents a huge voter block that, much to the chagrin of the Left, is solidly behind George Bush. Can Democrats win back these men?... more»
Science more accurate than myth? Astrology superior to astronomy? Why does Western medicine always go around negativizing disease, suffering, and death?... more»
Agatha Christie’s novels conform to Burkean conservatism: justice rarely comes from the state, but from civil society – a private detective, a clever old spinster... more»
That damn bird! Parrots, as we all know, can “parrot” human speech, but cannot grasp syntax and meaning. Well, anyway, that’s what we thought we knew... more»
It is easy to make fun of New Age obsessions with nonwestern cultures, but the civilizations of Asia did leave splendid legacies in art and science. How do you measure achievement?... more»
“Life is not what one has lived, but what one remembers and how one chooses to tell it.” Gabriel García Márquez has some rollicking memories... more» ... more»
Thucydides wrote, “large nations do what they wish, small nations accept what they must.” The U.S. position is even more extreme, says Noam Chomsky... more»
What with sound art, photo art, and virtual-reality art, how can an Old Master, armed merely with paints, palette, and a few hog’s-hair brushes, compete?... more»
Local content in peril: the advent of web TV means that now more than ever distance cannot protect a cultural market. Will U.S. program makers be the winners?... more»
The flirtation between church and state in the U.S. is more overt than ever. What’s needed, says John Allen Paulos, is a new faithless-based initiative... more»
Cultural protectionism has never existed for France. If it had, says Jean-Francois Revel, French culture, like the culture of ancient Sparta, would have died long ago... more»
Sergei Prokofiev: a lifelong child, selfish, petulant, needy, wounding; a petit bourgeois crushed by the forces he tried to placate... more»
A new Holden Caulfield, but on amphetamines, with “lawless brown hair, the eyelashes of a camel, an’ big ole puppy-dog features”... more»
Imagine the smallest possible number and call it ghost. Now divide it by 2. And, ah, Ghost it seems was not the smallest number after all... more»
Dylan Thomas, “young and easy under the apple boughs,” lovable cad and poetic genius, doomed by his willfulness... more»
Bad academic writing: mere pretentious gibberish, or a means to express difficult but intricate new ideas? Debate persists... more» ... WSJ
Today we want warmth and familiarity in written speech: we want it to ape the spoken. And the cost? Eloquence and elegance... more»
John Mortimer knows: life is short and anxious, so relax and make the most of moments of happiness. Champagne helps... more»
Hitler was a thoughtful host: guests could eat vegetarian with beer and wine, and each guest room had both Mein Kampf and pornography... more»
“English identity” may in fact exist – but to be English is in truth to find the whole idea of identity rather awkward... more»
Aesthetic plenitude fuels our economy: if it isn’t dresses and cars, it’s paper clips, pagers, shoelaces, bath mats, bandages, ballpoints... more»
Fallingwater: it is not so much its modernity that enthralls us as its antiquity – the ancient rocks, the eternal stream... more» ... more»
“Correggio is the only artist ever to depict the anus and scrotum of an airborne angel.” Who else would see it but Germaine Greer?... more»
James Clerk Maxwell was arguably the first thinker to grasp that physical processes don’t match any common-sense description of them... more»
The Russian dacha: first it was aristocratic, then became bourgeois, then something for true comrades. It remains in the life of Russia... more»
Sammy Davis Jr. always had to buy affection: onstage, he spent his prodigious talent; offstage, he could use his oodles of money... more»
Depressed? But there are so many cures: Rebirthing, Past Life Therapy, Recovered Memory and Alien Abduction Therapy, Touch and Breathe... more»
Skip the parrots and the peg legs: being a pirate is just about swaggering speech. No need to light yer cannon, Jim lad, pirates be all talk... more»
The Rorschach inkblot test tends to label most normal people as somehow sick. It’s handy to keep the clients coming back for the cure... more»
Pity the young female writer who wants to explore womens experience with texture, depth, complexity. The demand is for sunny, silly books... more»
Discovery: the universe guides us toward truths, because those truths are the things that govern what we see. Consider String Theory... more»
Bruno Hauptmann went to his death when Charles Lindbergh thought he could recognize his voice after years. How good are earwitnesses?... more»
Philosophy is highly general, abstract, impersonal, and even non-factual. Not only is it about all that is, it is about all that might be. Cool!... more»
Globalization anxieties require demons to be invented for conspiracy theories. Let’s see ... Americans? Perhaps. But how about the Jews?... more»
God deposited each new species on the planet, fully formed and marked “made in heaven.” He also allowed a few minor adjustments... more»
The racial gap in U.S. school achievement should make us furious. The situation of black and Hispanic students is an educational catastrophe... more»
Between 1400 and 1950, the art and science achievements of the West are staggering. In the 19th century output began to fall. Charles Murray wonders why... more»
The Rite of Spring is a brutal story that says life is food, sex, and death. But the music is really about dance, as Diaghilev and Nijinsky knew... more»
Today 26% of Americans live alone (it was 8% in 1940). It’s a demographic revolution changing everything: food, sex, pets, money, politics, religion... more»
Transgenic food crops using rDNA are the safest form of plant breeding ever. Yet a perverse logic regards “organic” foods as superior... more»
Kodak: a word made up by the man who invented both dry film and photo-finishing. George Eastman said, “you press the button, we do the rest”... more»
Killing a few thousand people could be justified as an attack on world capitalism, says Ted Honderich. Maybe Osama got it right... more»
Vladimir Putin was called by former KGB colleagues a “complete conformist.” But he was also a man with a striking moral sense... more»
Stress debriefing: another fad of clinical psychology now in doubt. The FDA insists drugs be tested. Why not mental therapies?... more»
Terrorist as narcissist: seen today, the Weathermen are a complacent, self-absorbed remnant, sunk in a farcical radicalism ... more»
So breast implants cannot be linked to systemic diseases like cancer, lupus, or chronic fatigue. Then why are implants so contentious?... more»
Good-looking profs get better teaching evaluations. Ugly, unkempt teachers who refuse botox, diets, or fashion advice are asking for trouble... more»
Hosni Mubarak rules Egypt along with a gerontocracy that that tells him what it thinks he wants to hear. Except General Suleiman... more»
Any woman can flash skin, but the most irresistible is one who flirts and seduces with a sharp, knowledgeable mind revealed in lively conversation... more»
Global warming: the media take is now merely alarmist, giving no idea of how flimsy the evidence is for its being caused by human beings.... more»
In our indifference to the pain of animals, says J.M. Coetzee, we are like the “Germans who went about their ordinary lives in the shadow of Treblinka”... more»
We are all Africans – unless you buy the idea that human beings sprang up over the world at about the same time. This now seems unlikely... more»
France is now the weak man of Europe: mired in hypocrisy, uncaring for its aged, disliked by allies. In short, it’s going down the gurgler... more»
Goya’s Black Paintings: autistic, sly, crazy, leering, howling works, says Robert Hughes. A world of moral chaos, evoked in daubs and slashes of paint... more» ... more»
Let’s suppose you are just a brain in a vat, all your experience illusory. Then you gain a body, but still believe the same things. Donald Davidson has a view on that... more» ... more»
What went wrong in Iraq? It was all going to be so easy, quick, and cheap. Gen. Wesley Clark explains how the best democratic intention can lead us toward disaster... more»
Sergei Prokofiev loved to alternate toccata-like rhythmic figuration with soaringly lyrical melodies, showing two sides of a complex musical personality... more»
Overtaken by the democratic vitality of the U.S., outperformed by Asia, bitterly resented by other members of the E.U. It’s Frances harsh new world... more»
The agony of the essay. Too many modern essays are thin, watery things by self-absorbed sentimentalists who inflict their maladies on the reader... more»
The body is a wildly popular topic in cultural studies: the plastic, socially constructed body, not the piece of matter that sickens and dies. Postmodernism loves body but is terrified by biology... more»
Postwar Germans and Japanese were patriotic, cooperative peoples ready for democracy. Postwar Iraqis live in a system of clans and tribes, like the Hatfields and the McCoys... more»
In Watergate and the Clinton scandal a few journalists did heroic, even historic, work. Others did a fairly decent job. Many more were suggestible and sheep-like... more»
Even though Leo Strauss failed in his attempt to reform the character of liberal education in America, his works continue to edify, to charm, and to influence... more»
Terry Eagleton: anatomizer of our age who does not use email, the Oxford don students call a stand-up comic, the revolutionary who is now a pillar of the establishment... more»
“You’re one of my best students, and you could have a great career,” his professor said. “But departments are loath to hire political conservatives. You’ve got to be really quiet”... more»
Aside from Woodrow Wilson, the best-read U.S. president of the 20th century was Richard M. Nixon, who took bookish delight in exchanging letters with the likes of Hugh Kenner and Leslie Fiedler... more»
American women, capitalism’s latest recruits, are offered membership in the free market economy on the same harsh terms as men. Consider then the raising of children... more»
John Buchan, author of the Thirty-Nine Steps, was that British amalgam of industry, priggishness, passion, duty, honor, energy, and in his Victorian manner, eccentricity... more»
It is both part rarefied summit of metaphysical giants, part traveling circus. Carlin Romano on the babbling, Byzantine World Congress of Philosophy... more»
The Last Intellectual in the mind of many a Frenchman. Jean-Paul Sartre invented a fine vaccine against totalitariarism, but forgot to inoculate himself... more»
Shopping, a ceaseless search for the next meaningless object, is for people without purpose. The British are not even good at shopping, having become a nation of shoplifters... more»
Like the backward baseball cap, gay is a meme that has spread over the world, says Richard Dawkins. He’s hoping the same thing will happen to bright... more»
Joan of Arc had to wait 600 years to become a saint. Mother Teresa gets there in six years. Pope John Paul II is giving out sainthoods like Hollywood gives out Oscars... more»
The hard-core modernism of Joyce and Eliot is sterile, perverse, and impenetrable. It’s jazz modernism that may yet save the world... more»
Okay, so Paul Johnson thinks art must represent, and thus praises Norman Rockwell. But to regard Matisse and Picasso as frauds... more»
If anti-intellectualism is now extended to religion, is that all bad? So what if ten percent of the faithful think Joan of Arc was Noahs wife?... more»
Pat didn’t own a mink coat, he said. “But she does have a respectable cloth coat. And I always tell her she’d look good in anything.” Nixon: man and image... more»
Technology has the capacity to make our lives better in almost every respect. But will it improve our writing? Well may Susan Greenfield ask... more»
W.B. Yeats was a great poet who was also into a batso metaphysics. Need we know the rubbish, Clive James asks, to love the poetry?... more»
With tactics learned in the last century at the knee of Stalin, Mao, and Kim Il Sung, Robert Mugabe holds fast to his reign of terror... more»
Modern pesticides are much more a cure for human misery than a cause: it’s diseases, not chemicals, that kill in poor countries... more»
We were not dropped by God from the sky. However, a cultured adult is far from a neonate. We live between nature and nurture... more» The 1920s, the age of bathtub gin, flagpole-sitting, mah-jong, and Valentino, makes the most clearly defined American decade... more»
Dueling: the drama of heroic, deadly struggles of men with swords or pistols over matters of honor. Yes, boys will be boys... more»
Did Jan Morris write with less flowery, purple excess when she was a man? Oh, she has always had a weakness for hyperbole... more»
It wasn’t Nietzsche who stood at the door of the Nietzsche Archive to welcome Adolf Hitler. It was his dreadful sister, Elisabeth... more»
The members al-Qaeda may be a gaggle of losers, infantile fanatics, but they are no less fearsome for that. Mohamed Sifaoui knows... more»
He was indicted for contempt of Congress and his marriage to Marilyn was a Ben/J.-Lo event, but for Arthur Miller, the plays are the thing... more»
It’s fitting that the man who made Elvis Presley into a pop icon was creature of self-invention: Andreas van Kuijk, aka Col. Tom Parker... more»
Why the huge economic gap between North and South America? The hidalgo contempt for work and the gringo embrace of it? What else?... more»
Virgil aimed not to equal Homer, but to surpass him. Moderns who dismiss his ambition should take another look... more». Meanwhile, in Purgatory...
Vintage clothes, crackly, old blues records, organic foods. We want them in a world of spin doctors and plastic artifice. We want authenticity... more»
We the people” also includes witch hunters, Know Nothings, purity crusaders, book censors, moral vigilantes, Klansmen, and meddling wowsers... more»
The Nobel prize is given to economists in alternate years who hold opposite views. Could it happen in physics?... more» ... How fair are the Nobel decisions? ... more»
Eugene Istomin, pianist who grew from child prodigy to become a grand old man of music, is dead at 77... Tim Page ... NYT ... WashPost
She’s broken just about every other taboo on the planet. So if Germaine Greer now turns her eye to pretty young boys, why the horror?... more»
Evelyn Waugh: the bloated, puffed-up face, the beady eyes red with wine and anger, the cigar jabbing as he went in for the attack... more»
Fatal Golden Gate. His note read, “I’m walking to the bridge. If one person smiles at me on the way, I won’t jump.” No one smiled... more»
The U.S. dropped a nuclear bomb on the Saa restaurant to try to kill Saddam. That’s what people think. Americans are a mystery to Iraqis... more»
How pointless and vapid our debates of “fair trade” and “free trade.” It’s the poor of the world who gain the most from open commerce... more» ... more»
So if there were no WMDs ready to fire, what’s so far been found? Enough to justify the invasion? David Kays report to Congress... more»
New research confirms that Arts & Letters Daily readers live longer, suffer less senile dementia than other web surfers... more» ... more»
The pancake platter comes with biscuits. You explain it in the blackness before dawn, and keep at it all day. Your back hurts and youre too old for this... more»
Make your book launch a big event: invite to the party the very people you attack in the book. Pow! Bang! Whap! Or maybe not... more»
Not all of Prague’s visiting geniuses were as fatally hexed as Mozart and Brahe, Kafka and Rilke. But Prague has seen some bad luck... more»
J.M. Coetzee, novelist and essayist of post-apartheid South Africa, wins the Nobel Prize for Literature... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Under the altar of St. Peters, sheep, ox, and pig bones, with the complete skeleton of a mouse, have been found. What of St. Peter himself?... more»
Free Mickey! Swiftian satire say some, obscene nonsense Disney’s lawyers insist. It’s the world of the Air Pirates... more» ... pix.
Edmund Gosse was “felled, flayed, eviscerated, pulverized and blown to the winds” in a review so bad that it can still bring gasps today... more»
John Rawls argued that bad luck must be remedied by public policy. You’d think Bill Bennett and Milton Friedman would disagree. Not quite... more»
Elia Kazan, film maker of genius, the man who directed A Streetcar Named Desire and On the Waterfront, is dead... NY Times ... LA Times ... Guardian ... Le Monde ... Independent ... Telegraph ... Weekly Standard ... A.O. Scott ... Robert Fulford
George Plimpton, bon vivant, author, founder of the Paris Review, is dead... NY Post ... SF Chronicle ... NY Times ... Telegraph ... Guardian ... Paris Review ... New Yorker ... Slate ... Independent ... East Hampton Star ... Thomas Beller
Edward W. Said, Palestinian-born scholar, writer and critic, is dead... NYT... Guardian ... Le Monde ... BBC ... Alexander Cockburn ... Telegraph ... Brian Whitaker ... Malise Ruthven ... Scott McLemee ... Libération ... LAT ... Christopher Hitchens ... Independent ... Al-Ahram ... Lee Smith ... W.J.T. Mitchell ... James Heartfield ... Stephen Howe ... Eric Banks ... David Herman ... Michael Wood ... funeral
As Salman Sharif gave the order to open fire, he was certain he would die. Nobody tries to kill Uday Hussein and expects to get away with it... more»
Crime, or honorable parental instinct? Nepotism is not so bad: it “links the generations in a chain of generosity and gratitude”... more»
They are intensely passionate about the idea of democracy, even as they squabble over tactics for Iraq. Neocons still call the shots... more»
Are grammatical rules devices to make it harder for the lower orders to ascend the social ladder? Consider class, power, and the singular they... more»
At around $7.50 per hour, food service work in the law-school dining hall is the lowest paid on the Harvard campus. No one notices... more»
The great department stores hid our sense of acquisition as sociability: they were cathedrals of materialist aspiration and pleasure. Their decline diminishes hope... more»
Environmentalists will within ten years come to regard genetic modification as one of the most powerful tools for cleaning up the environment, predicts Jonathan Rauch... more»
Journalists, heroes? Stop kidding, says John Burns, who works for the New York Times, has a flak jacket and a wallet full of dollars: “There is corruption in our business”... more»
It’s not the instructor, but rather swearing, violent students who now dominate many British classrooms. Maybe it’s time for teachers to start fighting back... more»
Rabbit-Proof Fence is a compelling story that plays to the sense of guilt felt by Australians. But sometimes a culture of guilt needs a cold bath of factual analysis... more» ... more»
Perhaps the problems of faraway peoples are for them to solve, as intervention by the West would be racist, or colonialist, or venal. Or perhaps not, argues Ian Buruma... more»
Extra-terrestrial beings: what if they turned out to be not only technologically ahead of us, but morally too? Paul Davies on E.T. and religion... more»
Will Arab youth put their money into Hi, a new U.S. magazine, or a pack of Marlboros? The State Department is wondering... more»
New Agers from Hollywood to New York enthuse over Sufi trances and meditation. Do they have a clue what they’re talking about?... more»
If Frida Kahlo leaves us with a sense that she’d be a better medical illustrator than artist, so what? In those creepy paintings, you feel her pain... more»
U.S. workers can trade off higher income for more leisure, if they choose. It’s not so easy for Europeans to do the opposite... more»
The artifacts stolen from the Baghdad Museum belong to the Iraqi people, but also to all mankind. Col. Matt Bogdanos is tracking them down, one by one... more»
Henry Clay was called “a being so brilliant yet so corrupt, which, like a rotten mackerel by moonlight, shines and stinks.” Where stands the art of insult today?... more»
Few are the health problems that can’t be treated by a solid martini, followed by a thick steak and crusty bread, washed down with a fine, old blood-thick Burgundy... more»
“Saints should always be judged guilty until they are proved innocent,” George Orwell wrote of Gandhi. But we must also apply the same test to Orwell... more»
If it’s disturbing to look at those September 11th photographs over breakfast, imagine what it was like to take them. Richard Drew knows... more» ... more»
Oklahoma is not the easiest place to be if you’re gay. But its inhospitable climate seems to have fostered true grit among local pioneers in gay history... more»
Every drive through Iraq in a U.S. Humvee is a referendum. Sunni faces remain sullen, but in much of Iraq, smiles tell another story... more» ... New Iraqi poll.
Günter Guillaume, secretary and valet to Chancellor Willy Brandt, was a communist spy. His story, with Brandt’s, is the subject of Michael Frayn’s deeply complex new play... more» ... more»
Anti-Americanism is now a part of the world’s psyche: a backlash against a nation that comes bearing modernism to those who want it, but fear and despise it... more»
When Marseille had strikes by trash collectors, tons of garbage rotted in the streets, so government leapt to action. It sprayed the garbage with perfume: a French solution... more»
Do all the ills of the Arab world “emanate from Orientalism,” having nothing to do with the socio-economic or political makeup of Arab lands? Hardly, says Ibn Warraq... more»
An American artist in Baghdad sitting on a stoop or in a cafe drawing always elicits an avid audience. Onlookers feel free to stab at the paper to make a point... more»
My new friend Hegel. His critics have him wrong, says Michael Prowse. He was not opposed to individualism, but saw how people could link together toward a common good... more»
The Immaculate Conception idea of U.S. foreign policy, or anybody’s foreign policy, is so absurd that no sentient being should believe it. Yet many people do... more»
It’s the new moral law for modern man: moral concern increases as the square of the distance from the person expressing the concern. Consider the case of Bertrand Cantat... more»
Educated idiots: as the Leninist left died in the rubble of the Berlin Wall, so did the literary intelligentsia vanish morally in the ashes of the Twin Towers, says Geoffrey Wheatcroft... more»
The 9/11 attacks were just what George Bush needed to galvanize opinion and justify his global power grab. That’s why he planned them from the start... more» ... more»
Novelist, feminist, lover of Chopin, eccentric, trousered icon, George Sand has been in a rural cemetery for 130 years. Time for a change... more»
About a fifth of Americans opposed the U.S. attack on Iraq. Together they make up an informal “peace party.” Who are they? Can they make a difference?... more»
America in decline. Is the U.S a giant of both ideas and power? Or is it tired and adrift – its military a hollow shell for rotting culture and values?... more»
Joseph Schumpeter’s “gale of creative destruction” is near to storm force, expanding the scope of human choice. Tyler Cowen sings its praises... more»
Tom Utley has pretended all his life to enjoy Leonardo, Chekhov, Verdi, Keats, and the like. In fact, it’s been nothing but a big fat lie... more»
The big weapons makers that alarmed Eisenhower have shrunk in size since the Cold War. Now private companies take to the battlefield itself... more»
Show-offs and career-killers. And they do their poisonous work for free books, a few bucks, and a byline. Do book critics really enjoy reading?... more»
The Manchurian Candidate may be pulp fiction, but it is very toney pulp – a man in a tartan tuxedo, chicken à la king with shaved truffles... more»
Edward Teller, who built the H-bomb, but felt that the atomic attack on Japanese cities had been a mistake, is dead at age 95... more» ... more»
Authenticperformances of Bach can be among the worst, the music racing along, turning the St. Matthew Passion into a bubbly disco track... more»
Leni Riefenstahl, film director who claimed to have been guided by a “search for beauty,” but who was reviled as Hitler’s propagandist, is dead... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
Multinationals have hijacked “free trade” and corrupted the WTOs agenda. Even economist Jagdish Bhagwati agrees that poor countries may be cheated... more»
“If science can’t say where the laws of physics come from, why imagine religion will do any better?” That kind of skepticism is not shared by all scientists... more»
Donald Davidson, thinker who changed how philosophers view the relation between actions, reasons, and causes, is dead at age 86... more»
The Galileo Orbiter will soon commit celestial suicide, plunging as a million white-hot fragments into Jupiter. It will be a useful death... more»
The vast diversity of life on earth came about through evolution. What does Darwinism tell us about defending the American homeland?... more»
Both were aspiring novelists, but when she was eclipsed by his success, she went for revenge: “If I could not be happy I would make us both miserable”... more» ... “Envy”
Beijing must either go with the people of Hong Kong, or oppose them. Two systems? Rubbish. The issue is not the future of Hong Kong. It’s the future of China... more»
Aesthetic design is not about what we need to exist, says Virginia Postrel. It is about the deeply human pleasure and comfort of beauty... more»
“I am the illegitimate child of a diabolical couple called fascism and Stalinism.” Bernard-Henri Lévy: media-friendly French philosopher and all-round stud... more»
Hugh Hefner is 77, but likes to date girls in their 20s. Does he ever consider dating a gorgeous woman of 40 with some experience of life? Well... more»
It was once thought that the personal acquaintance of a subject by her biographer was a virtue. In our cynical times it’s seen as a vice. Consider Iris Murdoch... more»
Richard Holm laments the efforts of the Americans to help the Hmong against the Pathet Lao in the 1960s. Intentions were good, but the U.S. is not omnipotent... more»
Neoclassical economics takes for granted we’re rational agents bent on maximum benefit. Human nature complicates things with the endowment effect... more»
Europe may relegate Muslim migrants to ghettoes festering with crime and disease, or Muslims might yet revitalize Europe. Or maybe something quite new... more»
Viagra has been hailed as a quick-fix cure-all. But it may be that our love affair with the drug is destined to fail – damn, it all began so romantically... more»
Anti-Americanism, which might have the dignity of an argument, a grown-up idea, is less of a threat to France than the creeping moldiness of French life... more»
If Disneyland Paris is near to broke, how come its hotels are full, with long lines for rides? All you hear is English, German, and Italian, plus the odd French curse... more»
Sickness, death, and murder mark the Trotsky family diaspora. One bright corner of it can now be found in Bethesda, Maryland. Her name is Nora Volkow... more»
Jumping in Goethe’s lap, crooning into Beethoven’s ear, on long walks with Karl Marx. That was Bettina Brentano. But she just wasn’t Napoleon’s type... more»
When Paul Krassner started The Realist in 1958 it was hippest magazine in the U.S. He was still living with his parents and was still a virgin... more»
PowerPoint is the epitome of techno stupidity: dumbed down ideas displayed with stylish inanity and contempt for the audience. Edward Tufte explains... more»
Is our universe the only one going or are there others out there, “thick as blackberries”? Depends on what counts as evidence, says Jim Holt... more»
Withering skepticism is just what the doctor (physics Ph.D) ordered to keep crazy theorists in check. But theory-making is just so much fun... more»
George Bush outrages the left, and yet shows himself to be a pragmatic conservative with an instinct to conserve the liberal welfare state.... more»
Ibn Warraq’s Why I Am Not a Muslim trashes the feel-good vision of Islam as a “religion of peace.” No wonder his address is a secret... more»
Do you care if that orchid grew in a jungle or a hothouse? No? So you care if that diamond was mined by De Beers or made by a machine?... more»
Is Kansas flat as a pancake? Well, actually, it’s flatter. Pancakes, you see, are not as flat as we all thought. more». Kansans don’t want to know.
Arnold Schwarzenegger puts a bullet into the head of his wife in Total Recall, saying, “Consider that a divorce.” And he expects women’s votes?... more»
Kirk Varnedoe, curator for whom art was as physical and pleasurable as being knocked down by a wave, is dead at age 57... more»
The American way of war: more effective and humane than ever before, says Max Boot. It’s exactly what democracy needs now... more». Or maybe not.
What do dogs want? Food? Affection? A job? Are they moral agents, or con artists, or both? We perhaps love our dogs not wisely but too well... more» ... more» ... more»
Global opposition to the Iraq war is about U.S. dominance. Americans can’t keep saying to the world, “Trust us, we know what we’re doing”... more»
Building the pyramids can be seen on the model of an Amish barn raising, a religious and feasting event. The Pharaoh did build one hell of a barn... more»
Hypochondriacs are sick, just not in the endless ways they imagine. They cost doctors time and drain $20 billion a year from the health system... more»
When the culture of humans finally started to produce art and technology, our brains were actually shrinking. Still, we made it to the moon... more»
There was a melancholy side to James Thurber. “People are not funny,” he said at the end, “they are vicious and horrible, and so is life”... more»
If there is a case for the idea that religion is mental illness, Afghanistan is a virtual casebook of the most florid clinical detail... more»
Las Vegas is either the most unreal place in the world or the most real place. I’ve lived here 37 years, and I’ve yet to figure out which it is”... more»
Caviar stands for all that is secret, sensual, selfish, and reckless in the Russian soul. It was once illicit and fun. Now it can make you sick... more»
FDR’s Fireside Chats gave people personal sense of the man’s decency. Would he have succeeded as well in an age of television?... more»
Samuel Beckett’s silence, despite its grim, satiric note, is like the silence of holy men who, knowing pain and outrage, strive for peace... more»
Pretty sentences, all dressed up with nowhere to go. Many novels are just essays or glorified diary entries, expanded in length and price... more»
When James Thurber tried to improve one of his crude drawings, E.B. White advised, “Don’t do that. If you ever became good, you’d be mediocre”... more»
Georgi Dimitrov, murderer, toady, puppet premier of Bulgaria put in place by Stalin, had an odd habit for a man in his place: he kept a diary... more»
It took Moses weeks to grasp the fact that a black man, two shades darker than himself, owned him. But then before the Civil War, blacks owned slaves too... more»
Americans, unlike the British, don’t “do” empire, they do leadership instead, or, in more academic parlance, hegemony. Niall Ferguson explains... more»
The Holy Kennedy myth needs a sobbing effort of will, a chorus to demand that the flickering Tinkerbell not expire. We might as well believe in fairies... more»
The mystery of John OHara’s personality – snobbish, selfish, cruel, bullying – is why so many people found pleasure in his company... more»
Robert Capa was killed by a land mine near Thai Binh when his leg was blown off and stomach holed. His Nikon survived, its pictures intact... more»
The U.S. in the 20th century was more than FDR, Ike, and JFK. It was also Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, and Elvis Presley. Oh, Rock nRoll... more»
“My little Lenin!” said Stalin, tapping Kruschchev’s skull in mockery: “His head is hollow!” But looking stupid was part of Krushchevs plan... more»
Visiting the Lascaux caves, Pablo Picasso remarked that “we have discovered nothing new in art in 17,000 years.” Maybe he was right... more»
Textbook publishers must be careful. Forefathers, snowman, warrior are forbidden. Also: angry boys, whites living in rich suburbs, yachting... more»
Garrison Keillor has written the best spoof of literary life since Kingsley Amis. Piety and self-righteous sanctimony are his targets... more»
“The East.” Disraeli said, “is a career,” a barbarous source of riches and a huge tract in need of civilizing. Edward Said saw his point... more»
Progress is a war, and always was. Candle makers did not hail the invention of electric lights, nor canal-boat owners praise the railways... more»
Michel Foucault’s influence stems from a deep insight: the history of western civilization is also a history of what it despises and excludes... more»
If Christopher Hitchens’s ideas about justifying the war in Iraq still sound pretty good a full year later, his tone does not... more»
Franz Kafka’s relationships with women had been tricky, on-off affairs. With Dora Diamant, he came close to simple happiness... more»
Did our idea of childhood and parental love exist in the past? Some historians have said no. It begins now to look like they were wrong... more»
Many people have trouble with big words like disparage or disrespect, so they go for dis. The new Merriam-Webster is for them... more»
Neurologists think that the will is an intervention from the spirit-world, or we have no freedom, says Daniel Dennett. They’re wrong... more»
The world was within hours of an act in 1938 that would have rid Germany of Hitler and Nazism – but for a “victory” of diplomacy... more»
Numbers aren’t things, but dwell in a heaven of platonic perfection. Mathematics, it follows, is another country... more»
They fly, swim, burrow, float, trot, walk, jump, gallop, and run. Animal locomotion may be a single field of study, but it uses more than one science... more»
Toppling Mossadegh gave the U.S. and the West a reliable Iran for 25 years. After that came Khomeini and a more haunting legacy... more»
Hanging became unpopular as a means of execution, so justice turned to technology for a new, glamorous, modern way to kill... more»
The mystical tradition of Sufism is a fine alternative for a globalized world. But how strange that Pico Iyer is able to find it in California... more»
Under Ariel Sharon, Israel is bent on curfews, closures, murder, and mass detentions: in short, the politicide of the Palestinians... more»
The March on Washington was the work of Bayard Rustin, brave and eloquent leader of the classical phase of black civil rights protest... more»
Putting professors to shame is what Richard A. Posner excels at. He may be one himself, but he uses academic essentially as a term of abuse... more»
John North enjoys French drama, wine, name-dropping about paintings, good jewelry, proper men’s clothing. But what sort of man is he?... more»
The priestess at Delphi told Croesus that if he attacked the Persians he’d destroy a great empire. The prophecy was true, in its manner... more»
Daniel Pearl had stumbled on the plan for terrorism’s Holy Grail, the ultimate 9/11, says Bernard Lévy. Naturally, he had to die... more»
Women and work: it’s a world of biological clocks and forced choices, in which feminism is either irrelevant or itself the problem... more»
Cruel and brave, incisive yet confused, intimate and distant, angry and cool, Joan Didion’s contradictions lead to hard truth... more»
Why do we wallow in tales of priests and boys, when most targets of unwanted priestly attention are girls? One of the agonies of Catholicism... more»
Sylvia Plath might have been happy, given six children, a faithful husband, domestic help, more money, more acclaim, more luck. Might have... more» ... more»
People move just to get their kids into top-rated Whitney High School. And not just from nearby Los Angeles, but from India, from Korea... more»
Phallic references and penis jokes litter daily discourse. But what of vaginal imagery? Why is it merely rude, or limited to pornography?... more»
In 1903 there were only 150 miles of paved road in the U.S. But Horatio Jackson was going to drive his 20 h.p. Winton from San Francisco to New York... more»
Like Sisyphus, those who would tell us how life evolved have an uphill quest: once on top, theories tend to teeter and roll down again... more»
An intelligent academic finds himself stranded in Normal, Illinois. What does he make of the natives? They embody the mediocrity of Middle Mind... more»
Josephine: her odor was so lovely that Napoleon begged her not to bathe before they would meet. Her only fault? A shopping addiction... more»
Stalking trackless wastes of glass hotels, air-conditioned offices, and first-class lounges, they are the new citizens of nowhere: the fastest-growing class on earth... more»
Chinas politics is that of an old imperial state: governing Chinese and non-Chinese alike, seeking to extend rule by force, and all with a mandate from heaven... more»
“Every writer is, in the long run, on his own,” says V.S. Naipaul. Still, it helps to have a tradition: the English language was his, the English culture was not... more»
The Ten Commandments are okay, but leave things out. How come God doesn’t condemn offenses against gender equity? Drug abuse? What about school prayer? Christopher Hitchens asks... more»
Triumph of capitalism? Not exactly. Nor has “socialism” failed. They have met in a post-Soviet, post-Dickensian middle ground. The global economy is neither the one nor the other... more»
Thanks to stem cell implants, Mike May has back the eyesight he lost at age three. “The trees were a deeper green than I imagined, and so tall”... more»
“How lucky you are to be living in Italy,” people say when you move there. Alas, the idyllic vision of warm, sunny, friendly Italia suffers from one drawback: it is complete rubbish... more»
He is hypersensitive to criticism of his business judgment, but Rupert Murdoch laughs off complaints about his political or cultural role as mewls from the chattering classes... more»
Humanism wants to have it all: free will and dignity, along with a scientific world view. But does it work? Jeremy Stangroom has his doubts... more». Kenan Malik to the defense.
Dostoevsky’s novels are full of vividly compulsive characters who are driven by desire, tortured by conscience, consumed by shame. He was an expert on the psychology of guilty pleasures... more»
Our evolutionary future is not certain, but it does look like moving us in the direction of being more beautiful and less smart. Or as they say in New York, the future is California... more»
As stars of Hollywood pass on to an even bigger screen in the sky, our grief grows ever more bathetic. How much sugared sentiment does the death of Gregory Peck warrant?... more»
Pure science: a self-indulgent, elitist waste of money, or the grandest of species-affirming human endeavors? Robert Lawrence Kuhn argues for science in the cause of democracy... more»
C. Wright Mills is an exemplar of the role and reach of the radical public intellectual, but also a sobering reminder of how far the human sciences have fallen since Vietnam... more»
Heidi Fleiss’s childhood was a dream: brothers and sisters, camping trips, pillow fights, marathon Monopoly games. It was her innate business sense that led her into prostitution... more»
Power, Sharon and Arafat know, comes from surviving instability, not from ending it. Only Abu Mazen believes the disarray must cease. They are three men in a boat... more»
Bright lights are more than useful for big cities, they define them, as we saw last week. Yet for most of Homo sapiens’s history, night was experienced as dark... more»
By reinforcing stereotypes that have long hindered blacks, and by telling young blacks that thuggery is the “authentic” response to racist society, rap retards black success... more»
Captured by the neocons! That’s what they say about George W. Bush. So who are the neocons and what do they want? Neocon puffdaddy Irving Kristol has the dope... more»
George W. Bush is losing right wingers over soaring deficits, illegal migrants, his cave-in on gun laws, his tolerance for gays and even race preferences. Four more years? Maybe not... more»
Comedienne Pearl Williams used to chide women in her audiences. “Oh, she’s so dirty!” they’d say. “Well, if they’re so pure,” she answered, “how the hell do they know what I’m talking about?”... more»
Look around at your daily life, says David Brooks. Are you really in touch with the broad diversity of American life? Do you care? Be serious, now: Do you care?... more»
“It is cruel that music should be so beautiful,” said Benjamin Britten. “It has the beauty of loneliness and of pain.” Composers today also feel pain and loneliness... more»
Literature, a dead art? Hardly. It will instruct and inspire long after books by our angry, arrogant, and obtuse generation of critics have turned to dust, says Myron Magnet... more»
In a liberal society, we must control our passion for freedom and discipline it toward larger purposes, says Peter Berkowitz. Our humanity is ultimately larger than our freedom knows... more»
After 9/11, dissent was “stifled,” claimed the academic left. Nonsense, says Jean Bethke Elshtain. It was any reasoned religious support for the Iraq war that was marginalized... more»
“I live on the left, but quarrel with some of my neighbours,” says Michael Walzer, “and in the aftermath of 9/11 the quarrels have gotten more intense”... more»
Bush isn’t hammered daily on talk radio about his years as a drunk, his draft-evading ersatz military service, or his windfall oil profits. But look what happened to Clinton... more»
Post-post poets give us the poem without the baggage of meaning: the liberated poem itself, naked, streaking down the freeway. Joan Houlihan is unimpressed... more»
Postmodernisms surrender to a victorious modernism is, as the words of Derrida and Habermas reveal, so far the only definite result of the war of Iraq... more» ... more»
Über-Gulliver. The U.S. stands astride the world as a giant with its huge military muscle, staggering economic power, and cultural hegemony... more»
We think, we analyze, we debate. We worship at the Temple of Reason. And where does it get us? David Hume knew about thinking too much – and the need for carelessness... more»
Peter Pan syndrome: people in their 20s and 30s clamor for comfort in happy childhood memories, says Frank Furedi. When does nostalgia turn into infantilization?... more»
Nickled and Dimed has hit Chapel Hill on the latest UNC summer reading list. The Right is up in arms, the Left acts shocked and disgusted, and Peder Zane sits back... more»
Bawdy is the tribute that our instinct pays to secrecy. If you go beyond bawdy and tear all the veils away, you get dull pornography. Consider D.H. Lawrence... more»
Empires always claim they have a noble mission to enlighten, civilize, and bring democracy. Twenty-five years after Orientalism, little has changed, says Edward Said... more»
They’re normalizing gay marriage, they smoke pot, and soon they’ll be legally shooting dope. Canada is getting interesting. It’s Hippie Nation, says Naomi Klein... more»
Writing needn’t have clear messages or erupt into slogans in order to exert a subtle political power over us, says Edmund White. Fiction is about experience, not ideas... more»
“Civilizations” in the plural is the term Samuel Huntington uses without irony. Yet that little appended s masks a world of mischief. Roger Sandall explains... more»
Elaine Pagels’s father ridiculed religion as ancient superstition and viewed the Bible as a collection of children’s stories. In time, she came to disagree... more»
Are false memories of sex abuse too sensitive for a study of human recall at Harvard? Then how about flying saucer abductees? At least we can agree their memories are false. But wait, this is Harvard... more»
There was once a peaceful Iraq, a land that was living and good and beautiful, not garish, ugly, scared, tortured, or dead. Then came Uday and Qusay... more»
Wendell Berry refuses to make use of a computer, as he also refuses to have a TV. Okay, perhaps, but what about the fact that he has his wife type his manuscripts?... more»
Thanks for the mammaries. Women are supposed to be in control of their own bodies. Except, it seems, when they choose to have breast enhancement... more» ... more»
Baghdad was not the most obvious place to celebrate Passover this year. Saddam had just fallen and looters were rampaging through the city. But for Tim Judah... more»
He’s a “folk hero for the people” who should run for president. He’s compared to Voltaire, Swift, and Twain. He is awarded Oscars and Cannes prizes. He can only be Michael Moore... more»
Manufacturing and technology can only earn profits if they serve human desires, says Virginia Postrel, and what people want is beauty and pleasure... more»
Americans, says James Woolsey, have for years hung a “kick me” sign on their backs in the Middle East. They’ve acted like wealthy, feckless people who would never fight... more»
The Zimbabwe crisis is about the death frenzy of liberation culture, with Mugabe pulling down the house rather than be survived by his old enemies, the white farmers... more»
What Europeans need is a sense of patriotism to match and counter the United States’, Jacques Derrida and Jürgen Habermas agree. It’s a nice idea, but... more» ... more»
“On the plantation, strong slave men were mated with strong slave women. Blacks, you see, were bred for strength.” Does this make any sense? Is it racist?... more»
Time was when book publishing was a profession for gentlemen. They were interested in good literature. That was then. Now is Peter Olson, CEO of Random House... more». So what’s a bestseller?
The social condition of women in Iran – where nail polish remains an offense worthy of flogging and prison – is a stark backdrop for any study of Jane Austen... more»
In a publish and perish world, crimes against language are not victimless. Professors publish, literacy perishes. Students just learn to fake it. Robert Fulford explains... more»
A global constabulary is what we need, argues Todd Gitlin, to enforce human rights, avert genocides, and by the way to dampen world resentment against U.S. unilateralism... more»
Hans-Georg Gadamer loved Greek poetry and philosophy. He was a free spirit, but he knew what he had to do to survive, first under the Nazis and then the Communists... more»
Are you a bright? Quite possibly, if you are a regular reader of Arts & Letters Daily. There are many like you. Stand up. Be counted. Dan Dennett explains... more» ... more»
Who should be the first human to land on Mars? A military test pilot? Government scientist? Martin Rees says it ought to be an audacious millionaire, paying his own way... more»
Malcolm Muggeridge first gave up smoking, then booze and women, went vegetarian, and at last entered the Catholic Church to rail against sin. Even his friends were not edified... more»
So why is Germaine Greer so besotted with young boys with their hairless chests? She told a TV interviewer it was a matter of “sperm that runs like tap water.”... more» ... more»
Physics was the “dullest” high school course Murray Gell-Mann took, and also the only one in which he ever did badly. In college, he wanted to major in archaeology... more»
A mediocre interpretation by a famous pianist can give as much pleasure as a fine performance by an unknown one, says Charles Rosen. What’s needed is intense listening... more»
“The people of Iran,” said the late Ayatollah Khomeini, “did not make the Islamic Revolution to lower the price of watermelons.” So the hell with capitalism. But not forever... more»
Harry Potter’s magic world has no place for the numinous. It’s written for people whose imaginative lives are confined to cartoons, soaps, and celebrity gossip, says A.S. Byatt... more»
Left to his own devices, the ordinary chap in McDonald’s would naturally eat raw carrots and brown rice. Big, greedy food companies have perverted his taste. Or maybe not... more»
Rachmaninoff’s performance of the Chopin Funeral March Sonata is frankly incorrect. It also compels the listener in a way that is infinitely more important thancorrectness”... more»
“Yes, wild passionate sex exists. It can even exist in marriage. But it is not the only thing that keeps people together,” says Erica Jong. Consider talking and laughing... more»
Remove anti-Americanism, and nothing remains of French political thought today. Anti-Americanism is the lingua franca of the European intellectual class... more»
From indignities of airport security to tracking Muslim tourists to detention without trial, civil liberties have been seen as under threat since 9/11. But are they? Robert Bork has a view... more»
Is it the greatest historical novel ever written? How odd that Nikolai Gogols Taras Bulba was born in a world that hardly knew literature... more»
Martin Amis, unhinged by praise, expects his books to be venerated like Moses’ tablets. Hence Koba, world’s longest review, and now, Yellow Dog... more»
Falling in love is the nearest most of us come to glimpsing utopia in our lifetimes.” Okay, but might there be a utopia of enduring love?... more»
Lord Archer found that jails are full of criminals, many of whom take drugs. Another surprise: the food was not as good as his favorite London restaurant... more»
Freud would not want to be read with the indulgence we give to novelists: to be enjoyed so long as we don’t have to believe him... more»
Try as you might to avoid confusing the author with his creations, it’s hard to resist the idea that Paul Theroux’s novels are about him... more»
Eve knew the serpent’s fruit was both good to eat and a source of wisdom. She made a choice, and in it lay life’s pathos and possibilities... more»
Geography, a discipline that was once dominated by “maps and chaps,” produced Isaiah Bowman. While the Nazis murdered Jews... more»
In his solitude every man has consolation, said Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Never mind the ridicule, never mind the defeat: up again, old heart!”... more»
Fear the kids are being sucked in by shallow media culture? Take ’em to Banares to see burnt body parts. Show ’em torture chambers in Cambodia... more»
Is art and its history sober and solemn like war or law and their histories? No. Art is fun, and its history should be written with grace and wit... more»
When all is said and done, late Beethoven.... But we can be fairly confident that when it comes to Beethoven, all will never be said and done... more»
Why do simpletons like Ann Coulter and Michael Moore sell so well? A longing for clarity in a too-complex world? Laziness? Anne Applebaum wonders... more»
Mirrors have a strange and even dubious history. Imagine a painting of crucified Jesus that, seen in a mirror, mutated into rollicking porn.... more»
Mens pulp magazines of the 1950s: the smell of the ink, the roar of testosterone in a lurid world of menace, sex, and heroism... more»
Propaganda saturated U.S. radio in WWII. Enriched white bread was touted, for instance, as “one of the greatest forward steps ever taken”... more»
However mad they may be, all dictators will insist their acts of murder, torture, starvation, and looting were for the good of their country... more»
“The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax,” said Albert Einstein. Tax is a problem with a history... more»
Hannibal crossing the Alps is all dark clouds and dazzling sun for J.M.W. Turner. The painting is not about the army, but about light itself... more»
Some say Hollywood stars such as Barbra Streisand, reviled as a “bubblehead,” ought to stay out of politics. Is this snobbery, or what?... more»
Jean-Paul Sartre remains a figure who embodies a distinct moment in French literature: at his most literary he turned out splendid work... more»
Biology may not have the status of chemistry and physics, but it’s a lot more fun. Consider the size of gorilla testicles... more»
Sir Isaac Newton, alchemist and biblical scholar, inhabits a parallel universe with Newton the scientific genius. Physicist and crank, side by side... more»
Violence by its very nature is instigated by elites. But to have nonviolence requires that masses of people cooperate. It is democracy in action... more»
Stalins circle was a crowd of fawning, frightened, and corrupt “half-men” who did the tyrant’s killing and elevated him to the status of a God... more»
Cowboys can deliver a calf, fix a fence, and put out a prairie fire, all before lunch. They don’t share feelings. Unless they have English degrees... more»
The Netscape IPO, says Gary Wolf, was a thunderclap that announced a shower of money. Sure, but after that investors took a bath... more»
Parisian courtesans offered more than just sex: there was reputation, along with a good salon, beauty, status, wit, and conversation... more»
Leave your body to science to help to make better bullets (fired into you), design safer cars (you’ll be crashed in tests). Your severed head... more»
Maid to order. While Third World women look after kids of the rich in Hong Kong and New York, who’s minding their children back home?... more»
Barnacles: Charles Darwin’s daily study. “When does your daddy do his barnacles?” one of his children asked a friend. After all, what else did fathers do?... more»
Christopher Hitchens was once happy to sit around talking Gramsci or Sartre. Now that strikes him as something like touring Atlantis... more»
The Suez Canal: once symbol of hope, it lies battle-scarred, falling into disuse, another ugly fissure that divides the Middle East... more»
For science, the universe is too big, too inhuman to inspire any moral reaction except wary indifference. It wasn’t always thus: Plato, Aquinas, Dante... more»
Jesse Owens and Joe Louis: if they had not nudged the door ajar, Jackie Robinson would never have been able to open it for blacks in sports... more»
Ann Coulter is an inversion of Michael Moore: he’s ugly and ill-kempt, she’s glamorous and perfectly coifed. They share only an hysterical hatred... more» ... more» ... more»
Art students today are under great pressure to be “creative” and “express themselves,” but they’ve not been taught the skills to do so... more»
People who care about rows of numbers and get their tax returns done on time: boring plodders, indeed. But they can have their uses... more»
Arnold Beichman’s earliest claim to fame was Babe Ruth ordering him to “get the hell” off his car. More reproofs, and successes, followed... more»
It’s common enough: we release a salty, protein-rich fluid from our lacrimal apparatus, our facial muscles contort, and we emit sobs. But why?... more»
Helen Chaplin told her doctors that if she has to die, she must stay alive long enough to finish Proust’s Remembrance, all 2,265 pages of it... more»
Is Islam incompatible with free speech, free markets, and free religion? If you answer “yes,” you’re wrong. Imad A. Ahmad wants to show why... more»
A market economy needs not just democracy, but the rule of law. Without that, prices will be dictated by threat of violence. Look at Russia... more»
It’s the freshest, most clever and funny language on earth, with echoes of Wodehouse and Dickens: English of the Hindu peoples – Hinglish... more»
Bob Hope over his whole life never stretched or challenged an audience. His jokes were risk free, his smirk full of self-congratulation... Christopher Hitchens ... another view from Mark Steyn
Either you froze to death in it, or maybe it would set your left shoe on fire. Thane Peterson sold his VW Beetle in 1976 for $50. Oh, bitter regret... more»
It’s not always a bad idea for a country to have its treasures dispersed over the world. A later Lord Elgin might have saved the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan... more»
Below the Mason-Dixon line the old code of insult, honor, and revenge lives on. But as the Greeks knew, an obsession with honor can lead to hübris... more»
Osama bin Laden was in Tora Bora when last detected alive. From there he likely walked, rode a donkey, or took a bus into Pakistan... more»
Hollywood studios are locked in a special effects arms race, desperate for new gimmicks. Great stories, however, are cheaper than fancy effects... more»
American philosophers want to see scientific fact at the center of their discipline, while British philosophers prefer it moved to the margins... more»
George Bush has no time for high ideals in foreign policy and may suffer the postwar fate of Churchill. Bush and the Democrats can learn from Tony Blair... more»
While her contribution to our grasp of radioactivity is most famous, Marie Curie’s work x-raying wounded soldiers in WWI did the most for human suffering... more»
Goya’s Black Paintings in the Prado have stirred the soul of many a modern artist. New evidence now puts their authenticity in doubt... more»
Ladiesromance novels have long been easy objects of ridicule. But the snickering snobs are merely an alienated and hurtful minority... more»
Baghdads first systematic poll shows a people full of anxiety, unhappy with the present, but hopeful for a better future... more» ... figures (pdf).
Advice that authors must never roll up manuscripts features in early editions of The Chicago Manual of Style. Authors still need to know... more»
Commercial logos saturate our world, and are the occasion for anti-globalization riots and heavy Marxist tomes. How awful is advertising?... more»
Europes future now looks as gloomy as ever. So why are the English-speaking countries such economic powerhouses in comparison?... more»
France and the U.S. This is one love affair that’s been on-again, off-again forever. Freedom fries? Forget it, says Richard Brookheiser... more»
Romanticism comes in two kinds, says Mary Warnock: pre-sex and post-sex. She’s decided to revive the intensity of the former kind... more»
Rosalyn Tureck, who altered modern attitudes toward Bach with her harpsichord and piano performances, has died at age 88... more»
With time running short, the U.S. is rediscovering the wheel: reactivating local police and paying salaries of former soldiers in Iraq... more»
Harold Bloom. Don Quixote tilting at the windmills of social progress, or noble Lancelot, defending a literary kingdom of Homer, Milton, and Dante?... more»
Noam Chomsky is a brilliant debating tactician who can twist facts to his advantage, and he is deeply hostile to Darwinian accounts of language... more»
The real differences between men and women. They make the oldest story in the world – and newest, most treacherous, most urgent. Here’s the list... more»
Lights, camera, Marxism! Film school ain’t what it used to be. Don’t talk about “plot.” Ingmar Bergman? Who he? It’s all Lacan and narratology... more»
Children of Stalins Kremlin can be believed when they recall who came to breakfast. But dads don’t tell daughters who they murdered that day... more»
The Liberians, after 20 years of war, banditry, and kleptocracy, badly need a U.S. invasion. But how many nations can the Americans save?... more»
On the morning of Nov. 14, 2002, soon after Uday’s daily hit the stands in Baghdad, security agents were confiscating every copy. Why?... more»
Great philosophers of the past have been used for target practice by technicians keen to correct their flubs. But what of historical context?... more»
If the Center for Science in the Public Interest wanted us to avoid sugar in soft drinks (“liquid candy”), they’d go for its substitutes. But their real problem is pleasure... more»
Has Douglas McLennan really created what he innocently calls “the best arts section in the world”? You bet he has... more». McLennan on the decline of classical music.
An edition of complete works may be just what a scholar needs to see his reputation cemented. But not always. Consider Northrop Frye... more»
Rules for writing textbooks: avoid original ideas; alienate both students and profs; kowtow to referees; go ahead and steal ideas. Etc.... more»
Is there a difference in the ways men and women write? Can computer analysis of pronoun use tell us the sex of the author? Well, yes... more»
A gentleman’s agreement at Oxford insures academics are “all equally brilliant,” says Niall Ferguson. U.S. colleges are more vulgar. They have superstars... more»
In 1950, Popular Mechanics saw the future. Disposable dishes, fax machines, milk in frozen bricks, candy made from rayon underwear, and house cleaning with a fire hose... more»
The administration needed a demon or, failing that, some bozo out in the boondocks. So it found Iraq. Yes, we would liberate the Iraqis. Norman Mailer on Gulf War II... more»
Robusta? Phooey! Coffee snobs know when it’s not arabica. It is high time coffee drinkers of Middle America demanded a better cup of joe... more»
One is jealous of what one has, which may be okay, but envious of what others have, which is bad news. Of the seven deadly sins, only envy is no fun. Joseph Epstein explains... more»
“The U.S. empire does not know what it wants to do or can do with its power, or its limits,” says Eric Hobsbawm. “It merely insists that those who are not with it are against it”... more»
When Jackie told Hillary that Bill had, like JFK, personal magnetism and “might be a target,” was she talking about the grassy knoll or another kind of mons? P.J. ORourke wonders... more»
Irony is not cynicism, it is not true that Americans can’t do it, it did not end with 9/11, and it’s to be avoided in emails. Zoe Williams explains... more»
Intellectual versatility has never been understood. “Leonardo had people telling him that he was spreading himself thin,” says Clive James, ideal dilettante, perfect critic... more»
So why are TV talks with authors so lame? Well, what with their demanding hair-care duties, TV interviewers seldom have time to read the books... more»
Babettes Feast took on the narrow and outdated world of the weepie and gave us an exhilarating sense of what it could teach. It’s a movie worth remembering... more»
Continental philosophers? “I hate them! The last important French philosopher was Descartes,” says Jonathan Miller. “Heidegger is ghastly – an elephant’s fart”... more»
If Americans had heeded the dire warnings of declinists of the 1980s, they’d not have won the Cold War. How should they react to a new generation of gloomsayers?... more»
Supervolcanoes! Chemicals! Germs! Killer asteroids! Sudden climate change! Voracious black holes! Can’t the government do something? Were all gonna die!... more»
Sick and tired of Harry Potter mania? So is Jennie Bristow, who calls it cultural infantilism: it’s what we now expect from our kids, our books, and ourselves... more». Let’s hope fans will move on to better books.
Ugly, slovenly, inaccurate English “makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts,” George Orwell said. Bad writing is useful not for expressing, but for concealing and preventing thought... more»
In New Zealand they sell maps of the world with the south pole on top. It’s a splendid idea, says Richard Dawkins. The world needs more consciousness-raisers... more»
Chicano studies celebrates Chicanos, women’s studies celebrates women, black studies celebrates blackness, and white studies attacks white people as evil. Or does it?... more»
“For the first time in four billion years,” says Matt Ridley, “a species on this planet has read its own recipe.” Speculations by philosophers will never be the same again... more»
As the heroine of a Jane Austen or George Eliot novel might have found out, Hillary Clinton discovered how a vaunting will can be defeated by cold reality. Camille Paglia explains... more»
The Indians of North America were prone to morose irritability because their wives could not cook properly. Dyspepsia explained a lot for Joseph Conrad... more»
Wheres Farmer Brownstein? Why is it that, outside of Israel, Jews don’t farm? Isn’t it high time for some affirmative action for the Hebrew faith in agriculture?... more»
“An incredible individual,” says Mike Tyson of Che Guevara. “He had so much, but sacrificed it all for the benefit of other people.” Other people? Uh, Cubans?... more»
So you want to write a book? What are you, a lunatic? You will lose money, maybe friends and family. You’ll be miserable. You’re not even listening. Lunatics never do... more»
Globalization moves apace, but one feature of life ties us to the nation-state: language. We need an international tongue, says Susan Sontag. Why not English?... more»
Stretch out the genome and there is only a 1.2% difference between chimps and us. But that gap happens to include the possibility of all of human culture... more»
Two types of European today: the deeply Europeanized anti-European and the deeply Americanized anti-American. Timothy Garton Ash makes it all clear... more»
Male chimps were the first ones to get this going: you decrease the homicide rate within the group and you’ve virtually invented genocide. Robert Sapolsky explains... more»
College newspaper editors like to portray themselves as brave First-Amendment heroes. Ridiculous, says Stanley Fish: they are merely confused... more»
California is hooked on cheap labor that uses human beings without giving them adequate services, while a self-absorbed middle class looks the other way... more»
The Carlyle Group: a godsend for conspiracy theorists who are convinced the world is run by a shadowy network of wealthy men... more»
Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, Castro, Kim Il-sung: the list of murderous communist leaders is long, diverse, and multicultural... more»
Michel Houellebecq’s books are insolent: they affront all our current habits of living and treat our presumptions of mind as stupid delusions... more»
Lack of sleep and the fatigue it causes is an easy explanation for road accidents, medical mistakes, space disasters, Chernobyl – you name it... more»
“It was a pity that I had to wage war on account of that drunk [Churchill] instead of serving the works of peace.” Hitler loved the arts... more»
California once only offered Latinos a leg up into the U.S. workforce. Now it also offers an enhanced sense of cultural identity and self-esteem... more»
Captain Robert FitzRoy has had a bad rap at the hands of Darwinites. He was a creative scientist, humane explorer, and his crews respected him... more»
In a justice system that honors the right to argue rather than truth, any result is possible. Consider “deadly” silicone breast implants... more»
Squeezed between Osama and the West, the worlds 1.3 billion Muslims look for alternatives to the fanatic cult of death in jihad... more»
Mussolini: respected statesman who was admired in his time for having invented a third way between communism and unbridled capitalism... more»
Michel Houellebecq’s latest is, read on a train, terrible value mile for mile. Still, he’s witty and his themes are big and bravely expounded... more»
Captain James Cook’s story features a cast of amorous Tahitians, aggressive Maori, foppish botanists, and libidinous sailors... more»
The computer keyboard, the chair, the football helmet: all designed to make life easier or safer. Do they really? Our upside technologies have their other side... more»
Joe DiMaggio is on the wane and Bing Crosby no longer charms, but we still keep a pantheon of heroes: Lincoln, John Adams, Lewis and Clark, Ben Franklin... more»
Literary journalism: demand for it will never increase. No one who does it will get rich. It must be pursued for its own sake. Clive James knows ... more»
All dressed up with nowhere to go. To be a Left activist after Iraq is like being fired-up for romance with that perfect love who’s just moved on... more»
Once you realize the earth will be finally swallowed by the sun and the universe is doomed, the environment seems a rather trivial concern. But... more»
In their criminal arrogance, U.S. attitudes recall Wilhelmine Germany. Too bad: “Great empires do not die by murder, but suicide”... more»
Democracy can as easily lead to elected dictatorship by mullahs as to civil society. Without the rule of law it’s mob rule, says Roger Scruton.... more»
Senior sex. Bridget Jones’s Diary for the seventh decade is a fine work in the view of Peder Zane: “So long as my parents never read the book, I say, hurrah”... more»
For Hans-Georg Gadamer the quest for certainty was a false path, one bound to abridge the richness and scope of human experience... more»
Academics: unworldly, abstract, over-confident, desiring moral purity, they are people who never left school. Their milieu is postadolescent... more»
In 1937 Hitler ordered designs for intercontinental bombers and mega-battleships to attack the U.S. – while Congress was passing neutrality laws... more»
Versailles, set in a fetid swamp, redolent of rotting human flesh, smelled as bad as the King himself. Amid it all, Marie Antoinette... more»
Why are we in the West so quick to excuse thuggery and whitewash the crimes of megalomaniacs? Consider the life of Napoleon... more»
Having paid so dearly for the mistakes made by her husband, Hillary Clinton would now like the chance to make a few of her own... more»
For 800 years the Magna Carta has been venerated. “It was born with a grey beard,” Dr. Johnson said. But what does it mean? No really, what does it mean?... more»
How to carry a wife: the best way is to dangle her upside down over your back, with her thighs squeezing your neck, her arms around your torso... more»
The timing to build the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze was perfect: Communism and capitalism bending enough to create a vast, murky brown lake... more»
People who’ve experienced trauma are better off talking about it. Or are they? New studies show that maybe silence and forgetting are the best strategies... more»
Communitarianism has a nice ring to it, but it’s stuck between the blandly obvious and the absurdly utopian: another third way nobody can get excited about... more»
Krispy Kreme, the hottest brand in America. Laugh at these sticky, fat, over-sweet donuts, if you will. You’ll still wish you’d bought stock... more»
Imagine, wrote John Ruskin, “two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the publics face.” His dismissal of Whistler was a visionary statement... more»
St. Thérèse of Lisieux died in 1897 loving God, yet in the grip of a dark night of doubt. Did Mother Teresa suffer the same desolation of faith a century later?... more»
When Roosevelt met Stalin he wanted to please him, and so stayed in Soviet quarters. Thus was he bugged like no other U.S. president... more»
U.S. efforts to spare civilians in the Iraq war were humane. But of the 10,000 dead Iraqi soldiers, many were conscripts who had no choice... more»
Let the activists riot, trash a McDonald’s, burn a U.S. flag. Globalization remains the fastest way to improve the lives of the world’s poor... more»
Marxist, historian, author, thief: Philip Foner wrote or edited over 100 books. How did he manage to write so much in a busy life? For one thing, he plagiarized... more»
Imagine a gizmo you fit onto your head. Plug in, turn on, twiddle dials, and youre an instant genius. Too risky in the U.S. But in Australia... more»
“Penny universities.” Coffee houses were meeting points for the public-minded, with free newspapers and piping-hot talk. Part of the history of the Enlightenment... more»
The usual scene: big guy enters restaurant. Guy is huge, hungry. Guy starts strong on the 72-oz. cut. Friends chant “Chew! Chew!” Guy fails. Guy throws up his $50 steak... more»
Rick’s Café in Casablanca is a tiny, humane civil society caught between forces of war. It explains why Al Qaida must bomb Casablanca... more»
Piano-player in a brothel: one by one, Malcolm Muggeridge attacked the evils of his age: communism, sexual freedom, TV, agnosticism, and progress itself... more»
Confronted by the hungry rats, Winston pleads, “Don’t do it to me, do it to Julia.” Poor Julia, says Margaret Atwood. Today she’d be on TV panels... more»
His work has been called lurid, insensitive, and mean-spirited, but as J. Michael Bailey says, if you’re going to do research on gay sex, you “can’t be a slave to sensitivity”... more»
In post-liberation Iraq one is struck by a lack of joy. People are too scarred, too wary to believe their long nightmare may have ended... more»
Je suis un superstar. Bernard-Henri Lévy is philosopher, narcissist, and provocateur. “God is dead,” he might well say, “but my hair is perfect”... more»
Cigarettes may be bad for you, but an embattled minority of smokers can show an enviable solidarity. Some will smoke their way to the top... more»
Bernard Williams, champion of truth against relativism, thinker whose analysis of moral conflicts made him a sharp critic of utilitarianism, is dead... NYT ... Guardian ... Telegraph ... Independent
Suicides in Israel are not all bombers conveying a political message. Sometimes they are ordinary Israelis who are at the end of their tether... more»
In 1997 Sabena ordered 34 Airbus A320s it didn’t need. This helped trigger the airline’s collapse. Just normal business? For Airbus, yes... more»
Weldon Kees has emerged as a tormented genius of poetry. Driven to extremes, he vanished without trace near the Golden Gate Bridge... more»
If drug dealers make so much money, why do they live with their moms? What’s more dangerous, pools or guns? Why is crime down?... more»
Mark Twain compared her to Joan of Arc. Those who felt her a fraud were right in one respect: consider the living beauty and humane depth of Helen Keller’s blind eyes... more»
Leo Strauss was an enemy of any regime wanting global domination, and of any utopianism that denied a noble feature of human nature: love of one’s own... more» ... more» ... more» ... more»
We must grapple with threats and the pain of life, says Bryan Magee: philosophers have a professional obligation not to seek consolation... more»
Iraq’s fall has been the mother of all wake-up calls for the Middle East, says Niall Ferguson. Bush sees that military power is the key, the magic spear that heals as it wounds... more»
The end of history? Hardly, says James Weinstein. The fall of the Soviet Union means the historical process toward socialism and democracy can begin anew... more»
From The Arabian Nights to The Italian Girl in Algiers to The Thief of Baghdad (with Douglas Fairbanks Sr., not Saddam Hussein), Arab life has been viewed as exotic, erotic, and fiendishly cruel ... more»
Futurists. You know, those learned chaps who told us of the coming of the leisure society, the self-cleaning house, and the paperless office... more»
The death of a father gores and tosses you. But if father is a writer, he is dead and not-dead. The flesh rots and leaves behind the words. Janna Malamud Smith knows... more»
The next holiday hot spot. With its tidy streets, clean water, friendly people, good food, open highways, sunny days, and starry nights, Iraq is just the place to unwind... more»
Universal democracy is at long last an achievable goal. Everything in our power – diplomacy, trade policy, aid – ought now to aim toward ridding the world of dictatorships... more»
Vietnam was the monstrosity that the Cold War containment doctrine created. So what new monstrosity might be produced as the bastard child of the war on terror?... more»
The Bush administration leaves an impression that it’s drunk with power, like the brutal Athenian generals who told the Melians that between strong and weak only power counts... more»
Talent’s a funny thing. Well-honed and practiced, it enriches us all. Undisciplined, ill-prepared, and arrogant, it wastes itself. Consider stupid poetry... more»
The sexual revolution was going to make courtship more fun. Yet everywhere, single people bemoan the loneliness, despair, just plain drudgery of dating... more»
When James Watson and E.O. Wilson were at Harvard together it was a clash of science civilizations: “birdsy-woodsy” biology versus the molecular kind... more»
Enrons ambitions were huge, and lay in areas in which government still called the shots. Alas, Bush let Enron down by rejecting the scheme that would have saved it: Kyoto... more»
The U.S. empire is like the Roman in absorbing foreigners, giving them elite status and power. Time was when many emperors and most senators of Rome were not Roman... more»
With the success of electronic media, English is killing the rich cultural store of other languages. We have finally built the Tower of Babel, and it broadcasts The Simpsons... more»
Michael Moore’s confrontational style fails in ways that speak to the marginalization of the Left today. Consider Crackers the Corporate Crime Fighting Chicken... more»
Women writers deserve more than just the odd lover, they need male muses: men to answer letters, remember names, and encourage when the day’s gone badly... more»
Anti-Americanism Lite: critics who claim to share American values, yet spread slanders about the dark, malicious motivations and hidden agendas of U.S. policies... more»
Among the Art World’s museum directors, curators, critics, and artist-narcissists, the central issue is never really aesthetic quality but trendiness... more»
“Blockbuster art exhibitions? Aw, nobody goes to them anymore. Too crowded.” For serious art lovers, that old joke is no longer quite so funny. Eric Gibson explains... more»
Plagiarism can be a form of fraud, but it is no accident that, unlike real theft, it is not a crime, says Richard Posner. Jayson Blair shocked fellow journos, but the rest of us... more»
Suppose they invent a drug that can turn you into a great pianist. You take it, and can play like a virtuoso who’s studied for years. Nothing wrong with that, says Slavoj Zízek... more»
Martin Rees has bet $1,000 that bioterror will take a million lives before the year 2020. As for the human race surviving the 21st century, it’s a 50/50 chance... more» ... more ... more
Should we judge the morality of toppling Saddam in terms of the results for the Iraqi people or the intentions of the American invaders? Kant and Mill in Baghdad... more»
Both nourishment and meaning are offered by food and its traditions, says Roger Scruton. Fast-food culture denies meaning by removing food from a sense of community, place, and ceremony... more»
Is voter turnout a good test of the health of democracy? What good to “get out the vote” if the getting is done by minions of Boss Tweed or Ralph Nader?... more»
In 1999, George W. Bush said, “If we are a humble nation, others will see that and respect us.” Hey, George, that’s not such a bad idea... more»
So why is the food of London and Paris better than New York’s? The fast-food ethos has coarsened the tongues of even the best chefs... more»
“The ways of Orientals are not our ways,” said Lord Curzon. We may think them stupid, but “they think us meddlesome and absurd”... more» ... more»
“I will build a motorcar for the great multitude,” Henry Ford said. At $850, the Model T was not a toy for the rich but an entitlement for all... more»
From John Philip Sousa to the Dixie Chicks, music has been a focal point of national pain and pride. Never was it more potent than in the Great War... more»
Australias welfare wars pit U.S. against European models, universities against think tanks, “fairness” and “justice” against fairness and justice... more»
“Seldom, very seldom,” says the narrator of Emma, “does complete truth belong to any human disclosure.” Thus too of Jane Austen criticism... more»
T.E. Lawrence was a legend just about everywhere except Arabia. His, like other British exploits in the Middle East, succeeded – and then failed... more»
Math popularizers have a hard row to hoe. How to excite the readers’ imaginations when all they really want to know is the etymology of googol?... more»
Oh, right. Peanut allergy. How about steak? Ah, vegetarian. Baked potato, then? It’s not low glycemic? A million reasons not to eat... more»
You can be moral and yet be dull, sullen, priggish, and dour. Laughter is a potent force, an aesthetic virtue that gives life joy... more»
Astounding virtuosity, deep music, gorgeous women, religion, and even botched embalming. It’s life, death, and Franz Liszt... more»
In a free country it is right that punishment for crime should be not torture or brainwashing, but the denial of freedom, says James Q. Wilson... more»
The New Anti-Catholicism: if we treated Jews or blacks with the contempt we freely heap on Catholics, well! It would be outrageous... more»
George Orwell saw the terrors of a whole historic epoch, made them into a world, and thus gave us both warning and weapon for the future... more»
Major civilizations let the past die so the future can live, says Abraham Eraly. “But India seems to be killing the future so that the past can live”... more»
However we work, we all need leisure, lassitude, inertia: play is at least as important as work, yet Americans really aren’t very good at it... more»
“Had Clinton had an affair with an intern? I just didn’t know,” writes Sidney Blumenthal. At this point, credulity slides into servility, says Christopher Hitchens... more»
We all start as girls. But then a spurt of testosterone turns half of us in a wrong direction, and we end up as a sad sex in decline: the human male... more»
Is Shakespeare too boring for college students? Then teach them Spice Girls. It’s theory that counts, not what they know... more»
Whether in burning villages, hanging deserters, or flogging porters, Henry Morton Stanley saw himself as bringing truth and light to Africa... more»
Thanks to neocon advisors, George Bush, whose rule has been audacious and even radical, is now embarked on his riskiest gamble... more»
Russia: 145 million people who live across one-seventh of the land surface of the planet, mired in poverty, despair, and moral squalor... more»
Madalyn Murray OHair, the grand lady of atheism, inspired and cultivated a cult of personality as she waged her secular jihad... more»
What does Beethovens Ninth Symphony mean? The answer is found in how it was used by Berlioz, Wagner, Bruckner, Tschaikovsky... more» ... more»
“God bless this poet who took the honest chances / God bless the live poets whom his death enhances.” Dead was W.H. Auden, live was Karl Shapiro... more»
Fear of snakes, but not fear of flowers or of modern dangers like electric sockets, is easy to learn. There’s a reason, and it goes back a way... more»
Of 8,000 items viewed as most precious by archaeologists, only 47 are still missing from the Baghdad Museum. The collection is mostly “safe, in good condition”... more» ... more» ... more» ... David Aaronovitch ... Roger Kimball ... Charles Krauthammer
Among the most poisonous of French imports is a stinking substance some Americans, even the otherwise law-abiding, are privately addicted to... more»
The Internet, as spam shows, is like a garden. Leave it alone and you don’t get luxuriant flowers. No, it’s simply choked by noxious weeds... more»
As ideological spirit, guess whose ghost haunts the halls of the Bush White House? Thomas Jefferson? Friedrich Hayek? Herbert Hoover? Try Leon Trotsky... more»
If your narcotic dependence is strong enough, you don’t ask your pusher questions. The drug is oil, the pusher is Saudi Arabia, and we’re hooked... more»
There may be good reasons to improve education and reduce poverty in poor lands. Alas, contrary to received opinion, reducing terrorism is not one of them... more»
Cosmetic technology, lifestyle drugs: medicine used to cure sickness and make us feel better. Now it makes us feel better about ourselves... more»
Our next intellectual elite may not be smarter than the last, but it’s more ruthless and rude. It sues to prove its kids are “gifted.” IQ is the new Gucci... more»
The social scientific study of religion is into rites, rituals, social solidarity, and belief systems. And what’s left out of all the analysis? Gods... more»
Better engineered babies with improved gene manipulation? Time to distinguish sci-fi fantasy from biological reality, says Steven Pinker... more»
Both fiction writers and their readers are swimming in a sea of literary sex, and most of it oppressive, egomaniacal, politically correct, or clichéd... more»
A slave system different from that in the ante-bellum South was indigenous to the Spanish Southwest from the 1500s on. Slaves could be both captives and cousins... more»
Limits of knowledge: it may be that we shall never know some things not because we don’t have the data, but because they are unknowable, ever... more»
Imagine the guilt, the horror of a former Ronald McDonald who is now a vegetarian and animal-rights maven: “I was the happy face on something that was horrendous”... more»
Genes allow the human mind to absorb culture and express instincts. They dismantle and rebuild what they make, both cause and consequence of our actions... more»
“Every dime I ever lost was in farming,” says Victor Davis Hanson. For him, real money lay not in the rich San Joaquin Valley, but in Greek history... more»
Navajo ways of knowing may be spiritual and holistic, but they are not much good for doing sales tax. So how about Vedic math? Feminist algebra? Islamic science?... more» ... more»
At 200, Ralph Waldo Emerson still has the power to instruct, provoke, and inspire. Words jump from the page, some with ringing truth, others odd, even repellent... more» ... more»
Artist and critic: it’s a battle between process and product, actor and observer. To artists, critics can seem malicious little people who play God... more»
Leo Strauss was not an elitist, but loved excellence in the Greek sense: the cultivation of the mind, of honor and nobility in the service of democracy... more»
Architectures future can be seen in a toxic corner of old industrial Brooklyn, where computers help bend metal into unheard-of shapes... more»
On launching her eight-hour cream, developed for horses, Elizabeth Arden quipped, “I judge a woman and a horse by the same criteria: legs, head, and rear end”... more»
A new world has opened for girls, but unless boys find a footing there, it’ll be a lonely world. It takes more than one gender to make a gender revolution... more»
Fidel Castro jails dissenters and shoots renegades at will. But now even old comrades are turning on him... more» ... poet and despot ... Oswaldo Payá ... Cuba hurts ... crackdown ... savage justice ... petition from the Left.
When we love an art, every detail, every shred of evidence about it, is worth considering, says Morris Dickstein. So do we need history in criticism... more»
Albert Wohlstetter’s vision for future wars against tyrants: win quickly and decisively, with few casualties and little damage. Then build democracy... more»
Deep economic and political forces are pushing nations to democracy, says Francis Fukuyama. But use of military power to help the process is a “big roll of the dice”... more»
“Moral norms are not submissive, docile things. They do not quit the scene when people treat them with contempt.” Martha Nussbaum on international law... more»
Post-traumatic slavery disorder might explain a lot of the stress in black subculture. How about post-traumatic birth disorder? That one explains all our problems... more»
Back to the draft? The market makes a better army, says Richard Posner. Unable to obtain labor by force, a volunteer military must actually earn respect and trust... more»
Why doesn’t Margaret Drabble’s disdain for Coke and Disney extend to Saddam’s garish palaces and giant posters? After Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Pol Pot, this horrifying man... more»
“I detest Disneyfication, I detest Coca-Cola, I detest burgers,” says Margaret Drabble. “I now loathe the United States and what it has done to Iraq”... more»
A philosophy professor who spent his life pondering old books would seem an unlikely master-thinker for elite White House policy wonks. But Leo Strauss... more» ... more»
Real politics has been dead for so long in Iraq that it is too early to know what most people really want. Electricity and water first, politics later... more» ... more»
A century after his solitary death, Paul Gauguin remains at the center of a romantic myth: the artist as heroic rebel of the South Seas, morphine, syphilis sores, and all... more»
“I can’t wait to get into a position to make really bad art and get away with it,” rich ’n’ famous artist Damien Hirst once said. These days, he can get away with it. So can lots of others... more»
“We want to feel some salvation. We want the freedom to speak, women to talk to,” Wafiq Samarrai says. “We have so many dead friends. This is our regret, our calamity”... more»
The late Bernard Loiseau’s Poularde Alexandre Dumaine, filled with leeks and carrots, uses truffles for an earthy flavor. The meat is tender and pungent, and should be for $276.00... more»
Globalization = Americanization? Not true. When Algerians in Paris box Thai-style and Asian rappers in London snack on Turkish pizza, something else is going on... more»
George Orwell was amused by his colleagues on the left who lived in terror of being called bourgeois. But among his own terrors may have lurked a terror of being an apologist for Things As They Are... more»
Oxen – huge, strong, steady – were engines of Cuban agriculture. Then came the Soviet tractor glut, so many tractors that they didn’t even bother to pick them up at the ports... more»
Nuclear weapons have always been more about psychology than about war. The power consists in having them, not in using them. They are the center of what will be the world’s next great struggle... more»
Scientists are largely a happy lot. Humanists, on the other hand, are insecure, unfriendly snots, forever trying to figure the pecking order. Leonard Cassuto looks at some differences... more»
Bruce Wexler wants to read books with buzz, but poetry? He can’t recall the last time a book of poetry created for him even a dying mosquito’s worth of hum... more»
Martha Stewart can tell you how to turn a cedar planter into a blanket chest. But could she do something really useful, like fix her own toilet?... more»
The peanut butter, the magic room, the bad clown who molested children, and death threats that kept them silent: it was all from the same script, says Dorothy Rabinowitz... more»
The next Ice Age will be caused by a warmer Arctic, if not a colder one. If the Antarctic ice shelf melts, seas will rise, except all that extra snow... Freeman Dyson on climate... more»
Maya civilization, Easter Island, the Anasazi, Great Zimbabwe, Angkor Wat, and Fertile Crescent societies: they all destroyed themselves. Jared Diamond looks at why... more»
Hans Magnus Enzensberger finds in gastronomy the best analogue to high-end book publishing: yet it’s a realm where French fries costs as much as truffle pâte... more»
George Bushs presidency is a far more formidable challenge to the Left than that created by Reagan or Gingrich. Its grand ambition is simply to roll back the 20th century... more»
Can any Tom, Dick, or Harry declare jihad? Well, how about any Omar, Abdul, or Aziz? In case you’ve always wanted to know, Amir Taheri has the answer... more»
Goodbye, Mr. Malthus. Today the political flashpoint over food is not that there is too little, says Brad deLong, but that there is too much – and it’s still subsidized... more»
The present peoples of so many archaeologically rich lands are descended from destroyers of original cultures. Do they have a better moral claim to buried artifacts than others?... more»
Elitists beware. Aesthetic insights come at a price: once you acquire a taste for the best – in art, music, literature, or cognac – it’s hard to go back... more»
It’s a near miracle that nuclear war has been avoided in the past, says Noam Chomsky. Now it is up to the citizens of the U.S. to shape a peaceful future... more» ... more»
He can trace his lineage to FDR, Lincoln, and Jefferson all he wants. The American liberal is still reviled, viewed as pariah, and gleefully used as punching bag... more»
Was left-wing politics just a gloss for vengeance and a sinister desire to control the lives of others? For Janet Daley, in a cold British winter in 1979, the answer was plain... more»
Alexandre Dumas’s novels, plays, travel books, memoirs, histories of crime and cuisine fill 310 volumes, coming to 37 million words (16,000 a week for 40 years)... more»
“If the French mission to shape the world is more or less over,” says Ian Buruma, “the American one is still blasting with both barrels. In many ways, we Europeans should be grateful”... more»
Coked-out prophet, paranoid gun junkie, hillbilly bookworm, drunk, and worse. Whatever you call Hunter Thompson, he can’t be dismissed... more»
When the 1631 King James Bible instructed, “thou shalt commit adultery,” readers knew a not had been omitted at the printer, rather than in Sinai... more»
“Why did he kill himself?” the survivors ask. “If we’d known, we could have helped.” They feel betrayed, abandonedand accused... more»
Sidney Blumenthal’s White House memoir has a purpose: to affirm the faith, rally the flock, to spread the Gospel of St. Bill... Andrew Sullivan ... Joseph Lelyveld ... Robert Dallek ... Ronald Brownstein ... first shot from Hitchens
You can reduce love or tastes in food to evolution and biology, perhaps. Maybe even ethical values. But logic? You gotta be kidding... more»
If Philip Morris or Seagram had a patent on pot – which is less addictive than nicotine, booze, or caffeine – would it still be illegal?... more»
Think before you swat. There are good bugs and bad bugs, and bad bugs that eat worse bugs. Bug scholars know the differences... more»
“You’ve got to live every day,” said John F. Kennedy, sick and in pain, “like it’s your last day on earth.” Indeed, that’s what he did... more»
“There are more sheiks here than in the Sahara.” That was Hollywood, and it was 1922. The number-one sheik was Rudolph Valentino... more»
The biblical prophets spoke words of fire to set the evils of their own time ablaze. They can do the same for us, if we but open our ears... more»
Islam and democracy are both mobile ideas easily grasped in different cultures. Both treat humans with respect. They are a natural fit... more»
How could a committee make any great book, let alone the greatest book in English? Yet it happened in the case of the King James Bible... more»
Allusion: Dryden and Pope use it to write of inheritance; Burns of love-children; Byron, of money; Tennyson, of winds, ghosts, solitude... more»
You travel halfway ’round the globe to sit in a bamboo hut, searching for meaning. You are in fact a chump, a despoiler. In a word, a tourist... more»
“Faith is propagated,” said the Algerian Islamist Ali Benhadj, “by counting up deaths every day, adding up massacres and charnel houses”... more»
Artistic and social snob, dandy and moral vampire who hated contact with the rest of the humanity: that’s Frédéric Chopin... more» ... more»
Satire in the 1950s was trapped between blacklist and Borscht Belt, between Joe McCarthy and Milton Berle. Then a band of young comics... more»
Democracy is a fine objective, says Fareed Zakaria, but to have it you first need freedom and a rule of law that ensures liberal ideals... more»
If priests have fallen on hard times, they are still supreme at exorcism, helping the afflicted belch and vomit demons out in charismatic spectacles... more»
On Muhammed’s death, armies of hardy desert Arabs began attacks on the Roman Empire that caused an equally awful reaction: the Crusades... more»
We read much of victory in war but little of the disaster of defeat, with its waves of envy, hostility, self-regard, reform, and revenge... more»
American market capitalism may be a recipe for wealth and success, but Americans know too that in the end, money isn’t everything... more»
What do brave boys, shy girls, men fixing roofs, women baking cookies, God, witches, owls, heathens, birthday cake, and religious fanatics have in common?... more» ... more»
Decapitation was once a form of execution used only on French nobility. Methods for lesser souls were barbaric. The guillotine was humane... more»
Augusto Pinochet’s mediocre military career was transformed into the longest lasting rule in Chilean history. Not bad, or very bad indeed, depending... more»
Malcolm Muggeridge loved the very inconsistencies of his religion: “faith must be based on doubt.” He was Catholic with Cs both large and small... more»
Edward James Muggeridge (not a name he kept) needed to know if galloping horses always had a hoof on earth. So he invented movies... more»
The Nüremberg rallies showed art and aesthetics were not byproducts of the Nazi Reich, but intrinsic to it. Beauty and terror drove Hitler forward... more»
Can only humans be protected by rights, when some animals are superior in their intellectual and emotional capacities to (impaired) humans?... more»
Beethovens ninth is the most powerful symbol of absolute music in the canon and – with communists, nazis, and liberals – the most politicized work of all time... more»
U.S. prohibitionists hate all that pot and porn stand for. Pot in particular is feared less for itself and more for the kind of people who smoke it... more»
Mescalin and LSD experience was for Aldous Huxley a kind of grace: not required for salvation but to be accepted with thanks... more»
Japan developed poisons as weapons before WWII, bio agents to destroy crops, and balloon bombs to drift over the U.S. at the war ’s end... more»
Crime in Britain. Old folk live de facto under a curfew in the U.K., and fear of crime now dominates the lives of millions. How did it happen?... more»
Another footnote to Plato: the world we see is trapped on a thin membrane that separates us from vast other realms. K.C. Cole explains... more»
Of the Baghdad Museum’s 450 glass cases, 28 were broken into. The others were emptied by curators before the war. So what’s missing?... more» ... more» ... more» ... more» ... Col. Bogdanos ... Why people loot
A mathematician at 40 is as likely to make a discovery as a graying gymnast is to win Olympic gold. That anyway is the image of youth and genius in math... more»
NYT reporter Jayson Blair made up quotations, lied about scenes, stole material... more» ... That wacky Times ... Andrew Sullivan ... Jim Sleeper ... John Leo ... Washington Times ... Howard Kurtz ... World Socialist Review ... Mickey Kaus ... Richard Cohen ... Terry Neal ... Jason Riley ... NY Sun ... Cynthia Cotts ... Jack Shafer ... Al Hunt ... Howard Kurtz on that stormy meeting ... Raines gets the moose ... James Lawrence ... John Bloom ... Robert Fulford ... Sridhar Pappu ... Book, TV deal next ... Christopher Caldwell ... Bob Herbert ... Roger Kimball ... Michael Wolff
TV has aggravated the sense of mutually exclusive realities in war: each side’s bloody video images “prove” that it’s right. Consider Mohammed al-Dura... more»
Saddams taste in art makes Hitler’s look pretty refined. A sexy priestess draped over an altar? A girl chained to a rock?... more» ... slide show ... despots’ tacky taste.
Return of the sexist pig. Lads now leer at “bitches,” love only their remote controls, and worry about size in everything except attention span... more»
Comic books, descendants of cave painting and medieval illumination, keep alive a preliterate tradition of stories around the fire... more»
Does Dear Leader’s warmth melt North Korean snows? Does he live off the blood of virgins? Did he shoot a hole-in-one in his first golf game?... more»
Pacific islands enjoy aid at a per capita rate that is about the highest in the world. But hey, corrupt governments don’t come cheap... more»
Barely 15% of French adults read a daily paper, lowest rate of any industrial nation. The paper that makes a difference is Le Monde. And there’s trouble at Le Monde... more»
If high art is still fancy French food, popular art is no longer mom’s home cooking. It’s ersatz potato chips made of petroleum derivative, with fake “jalapeño” flavor... more»
Germany may think it’s the sick man of Europe, in dire need of reforms it shrinks from making. But at least, for better or worse, it feels like one nation again... more»
Our language affects how we think, to be sure. But do East Asians make so few scientific discoveries because of their syllabaries?... more»
A walking crime wave: 70% of U.S. convicts are re-arrested within three years of their release: thousands of murders, rapes, and robberies... more»
Virtue-guru Bill Bennett turns out to be a high-stakes gambler... more». Joshua Green is surprised. Jonathan Last is unimpressed ... Mike Kinsley ... James Glassman ... Jonah Goldberg ... Tim Noah
The Precautionary Principle: it would have prevented radar, x-rays, vaccination; lasers, the Green Revolution, electricity, pasteurization, airplanes... more»
Tristan und Isolde is definitely opera and Annie Get Your Gun, with spoken dialogue, is definitely not. What about Carmen? And what about Stephen Sondheim?... more»
Expert grocery bagging – to make sure odor-absorbing chicken isn’t next to bleach, bread isn’t smashed, eggs aren’t broken – is a dying art... more»
Is your brain female or male? Sex alone is no help: some women are good mechanics, some men are empathetic. But overall... more» ... The test ... Then there was Newton and Einstein.
Why order spaghetti with “red sauce” when you can have it with “plum tomatoes, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, and chili flake,” i.e., red sauce. Welcome to Menu English... more»
Mad artist Adolf Wölfli drew an incredibly dense fantasy universe that combined sex, religion, language, music, and geography... more» ... images
The neocon conspiracy: the foreign policy of the world’s only global power is being made by a small clique of right-wing Jews. Or so the story goes... more»
Johannes Brahms was a slim young man, beardless and drop-dead handsome. When he moved in with Clara Schumann, gossip sizzled... more»
Pseudoscience is now used as the basis for many school health promotion programs. Ask hard questions, and you’ve got a problem... more»
Saddam’s statues lie face down in the dust. His evil rule is at an end. So – can we, like, go home now? Not quite, says Niall Ferguson... more» ... more»
A Good Deed. That’s what the U.S. has so magnificently done in Iraq. And as we all know, no good deed goes... more» ... Yeah, the hawks were right.
“It’s been a huge advantage that I’ve always looked like a cheerful, fat missionary,” says arch-spy Daphne Park. No use to go around looking sinister... more»
Lonely years in the wilderness after Goldwater, real power under Reagan, eclipse by Clinton, and now they ride high. Its the neocons... more» ... more»
News Flash: critic, journo, and gadfly Christopher Hitchens has been removed from a trailer park by police after a drunken fight with his wife... more»
Back during quagmire week, it was all echoes of Vietnam. Now the golden boy is Fareed Zakaria. Eggheads need to grab their place in the news cycle too, says Tina Brown... more»
Judaism and Christianity were both once true religions, in the Muslim view. Superseded by Islam, they’re out of date, but not inherently false. Bernard Lewis explains... more»
The good that colonialism did was ephemeral, its harm, lasting. What came out of the colonial enterprise was often more vicious, because better equipped, than what went before... more»
The battle of Iraq now ends, but the war on terrorism has just begun. Next in line are Syria and Iran, the creators of Hezbollah... more» ... Or maybe not ... more»
Leni Riefenstahl is an adamant, fierce, glib voice of the “how could we have known?” defense of Germany, herself acting as an odd, decaying monument to the Holocaust... more»
“Death to Moby-Dick,” shouts Ahab, “God hunt us all if we do not hunt Moby-Dick to his death!” Jason Epstein finds this parallel to the Bush White House imperfect. Still... more»
French art is worldly, even earthy, rather than spiritual, hedonistic rather than idealistic. Instead of the sorrows of life, it prefers to give us pleasure... more» ... more»
Weak-minded policy hacks in the White House have spun the “ideas” of Bernard Lewis and Fouad Ajami into the plan for a quick romp in Iraq, says Edward Saïd... more» ... Speaking of Fouad Ajami
Stealth creationists who call their ideas “intelligent design” theory may not achieve much in the way of concrete research. Their real success is in public opinion... more»
“When it is over, this war will have horrible consequences,” laments Hosni Mubarak. Instead of one Osama bin Laden, a hundred will emerge. Or maybe not ... more»... The minders were confused ... Arab shock ... Basra notes ... Losing the peace? ... reckless arrogance of the US and UK ... Follow Asia’s example ... Syria has a lot of statues too ... Cheney’s speech ... What a day!
The Soliloquy of Dakel Abbas. As he lay in a hospital bed in Kuwait, an emaciated young Iraqi prisoner of war told of a white flag that, alas, was not white enough... more»
W.E.B. Du Bois polished sentences of The Souls of Black Folk till they dazzled like jewels, speaking to the reader in cadences of the King James Bible... more»
The other sixties: in an era of love beads, LSD, flower power, and sit-ins, the real revolutionaries were mostly balding men in suits. Mark Feeney explains ... more»
People imagine that Iraq is part of immemorial Islamic tradition, says Bernard Lewis. In fact, Saddam has no roots in the Arab past; he’s an ideological import from Europe... more»
To the jaded European palate, the American optimism about science seems silly: caution should be the watchword for all new technology. Matt Ridley begs to differ... more»
A mammogram for a woman aged 40 comes back positive. What is the chance that she actually has breast cancer? 90%? 50%? Even if you’re a doctor, the answer may surprise you... more»
Democratic imperialism may be our best insurance against the deadly and spreading combination of terrorism and weapons of mass murder. Stanley Kurtz explains... more»
At the White House, books and their authors inform policy: Eliot Cohen, Victor Davis Hanson, Bernard Lewis, Robert Kagan, et al., with the shade of Leo Strauss hovering about... more» New American Century Project
The Nazi torturer and murderer lies dying and seeks forgiveness from a Jew. What does the Jew do? Grant it? Condemn him? Walk out of the room?... more»
Juvenal’s normal disposition is rage: against pandering homosexuals, cruel rulers, women, foreigners, uppity parvenus, greed, pomposity, vanity, stupidity, bad manners... more»
Our ancestors left us their DNA, to be sure. They also bequeathed us language and the means to solve disputes without resort to violence. Genes show us our history ... more»
Mike Moore’s unshakable faith in globalization is as contagious as his belief that markets and democracies make the world a better place... more»
We are inveterate shoppers and insist on our consumer rights: love and sex must therefore give us novelty, variety, and disposability... more»
“His strongest tastes were negative. He abhorred plastics, Picasso, sunbathing, and jazz.” Evelyn Waugh might have been writing of himself... more»
Is marriage driving mistresses out of fashion? Maybe not. After all, a man who marries his mistress creates another job vacancy... more»
“A craft to be mastered in four days and abandoned at the first sight of a better job.” Why does journalism get no respect?... more»
Most Palestinians want to see the liberation of their occupied lands. But too many also seek the ultimate destruction of Israel itself... more»
Modern terrorism fuses an extreme antirationalism with an old romantic fashion for murder to produce an obsessive hatred of liberal civilization... more»
Maxim Gorky visited a gulag: “There is no resemblance to a prison; instead it seems as if these rooms are inhabited by passengers rescued from a drowned ship”... more»
“Too few children, too few arms, too few allies,” was Marshall Pétain’s comment on the fall of France. Plus, France loathed the allies she did have... more»
Azar Nafisi is bitterly grateful to the Islamic Republic of Iran: at least it taught her “to love Jane Austen and Henry James and ice cream and freedom”... more»
Sport without clothes was at the epicentre of ancient Greek education. Indeed the word gymnasium can be translated as “nude-itorium”... more»
For government to control the governed, it must be able to control itself. Order plus liberty, says Fareed Zakaria, produces wealth and democracy... more»
Lenny Bruce, Mike Nichols, Sid Caesar, Elaine May, Joan Rivers, and Woody Allen came later. But the godfather of all was Mort Sahl... more»
Sartre and Beauvoir viewed Americans as unable to grasp the tragic subtleties of French existentialism. How wrong they were... more»
Australias very own holocaust: were Tasmanians killed in mass by British soldiers, convicts, and settlers? Or is the so-called genocide an academic myth?... more»
Generals fight the last war just as protesters object to the last war. Neither Asian rice paddies nor Normandy beaches are quite like Iraqi sands... more» ... more»
Irving Howe was steady as a rock for socialist democracy. He refused to change when others he began political life with had moved on... more»
Imagine if the Ku Klux Klan got total control of Texas and its oil and used the money to run KKK schools all over the world. That’s Saudi Arabia... more» ... more»
The Soviet gulags and the Nazi concentration camps might have started differently; they inflicted the same suffering and death on thir victims... more»
When Daniel Dennett was in his adolescence, a favorite ’zine was the nudist American Sunbather. But did he really read the articles?... more»
Zoologist among the rich. It may be the plutocracy do look at times like fruitflies, bearded weevils, or bonobos. But at times don’t we all?... more»
Steven Brill shows us grubby efforts to capitalize on the 9/11 tragedy. Fine. But his leaden book lacks any sense of moral detachment, let alone irony... more»
Like Bill Clinton, Václav Havel is a product of the ’60s. Unlike Clinton, he inhaled. And his aversion to cant has made him the Orwell of our age... more»
Using nonlinear equations to model arguments between married men and women is a mathematical challenge. Add a baby and you go straight into chaos theory... more»
Adolf Hitler burned books but also collected them: Eastern religion, philosophy, military history, and Nostradamus. He loved Karl May... more»
Surrounded in the streets, as ever, by adoring crowds – but doing nothing to help them. Saddam Hussein’s priority to the end was only himself... more»
“We are a nation that has been kept in the darkest corner of a dungeon. No light, not a spark of liberty. When we get it this time, we will never let the flame go out”... more»
Einstein’s E=mc2 is the most famous formula in physics. But what if c, the speed of light, is not a constant? Paul Davies on the unthinkable... more»
Twilight of the Tyrants: Iraq will produce liberal leaders out of thin air. Impossible? In a revolution even the impossible can happen... more»
The looting of the Baghdad Museum was not as complete as first reported. Precious art had been hidden away for fear of bombing... more» ... more» ... more» ... yet more»
True Wagnerphobes view his art with hatred in their eyes. Even Hitler’s atrocities are read back into the operas as though they originated there... more»
Fareed Zakaria has the perfect intellectual pedigree (Indian-born, Harvard, conservative) to equip him to be the first Muslim U.S. Secretary of State... more»
Partisan Review, once upon a time an energetic journal of ideas, more recently described as “a reliquary,” has ceased publication... more» ... more»
Democratization must mean more than unrestrained majority rule: think of “democracy” in the hands of the Hutu majority in Rwanda or the Serbs in Serbia... more» ... more»
Agility in maneuver, pinpoint bombing, commanders with a real-time view of the battlefield: the U.S. military is awfully good at its job... more» ... more»
Chinese intellectuals have the slogan, “Farewell to utopia.” But the human disasters of 20th-century China were caused by coercive experiments, not utopia itself, says Qin Hui... more»
Philip Morrison helped father the atomic bomb, had seen Hiroshima, survived McCarthy, and tried to protect democracy. So his students stoned him... more»
Skeletons in museum closets can tell of human history and solve medical puzzles that would remain unanswered. Till they are reburied... more»
Christopher Alexander has a vision of architecture and its place in the human and natural world. Beautiful ideas, to be sure, but not easy to apply... more»
The clash of civilizations has less to do with democracy and more with tolerance, gender equity, and free speech: values crucial to democracy... more»
An immortal canon of aesthetic greatness is sheer nonsense. Reputations of artists, writers, and composers go up and down like stock prices... more» ... Play Celebdaq.
Complacency made Hitler, says André Glücksmann. Pacifism is complacency. It has continued with Milosevic, terrorism, and Saddam. People prefer just to sleep... more»
Unprecedented global warming in recent years? Not so. New research shows that the Earth was warmer during the Middle Ages than it is today... more»
Michael Kelly, journalist, editor of the Atlantic Monthly and the National Journal, has died in an accident in Iraq... NYT ... Fox ... WSJ ... Washington Post ... New Republic ... Boston Phoenix ... Atlantic ... Slate ... National Review ... Maureen Dowd ... Andrew Sullivan.
An East European girl applies for a job in the West as a nanny and is beaten, forced to be a sex slave, chained to a bed, etc. Are these stories true?... more»
Language bullies have a shallow, literal understanding of how speech works. If we must ridicule noocular, where do we stop? Black English? Every non-standard dialect?... more»
Philosophers since Hume and Locke, as well as today’s psychologists, tend to be universalists, assuming we all perceive and reason the same way. They could be wrong... more»
Beijing, without its Leninist brother states, now pioneers a new kind of authoritarianism that cynically co-opts all. Stable in the short term, its too hollow to endure... more»
“It’s a horrendous crime to make a Xerox of someone,” says hysteric Jeremy Rifkin. “You’re putting a human into a genetic straitjacket” Bunkum! Baloney!... more»
Patriotism: should it be taught to our young, or is cosmopolitanism the better perspective for our century? Martha Nussbaum has one answer, Lee Harris quite another one... more»
Should the U.S. shoulder or shed the imperial load it inherited from the British? Niall Ferguson suggests that we ask first whether the British empire was a good or bad thing... more»
Beware of the high abstraction at which many postmodernists, including Richard Rorty, tend to operate. Simon Blackburn wants to drag them back to the everyday... more»
“You have the jewel of Africa in your hands,” Robert Mugabe was told, “Look after it.” As Doris Lessing explains, the jewel is today ruined, dishonored, disgraced ... more»
Elites of postcolonial Africa mirror the political conduct of the white oppressors they did away with.” Think it, but don’t say it... more». Especially not in the New York Times.
It can’t distinguish Francis Bacon the philosopher from Francis Bacon the painter, but Google remains a marvel. As Dr. Johnson might have said, “To be tired of Google is to be tired of life”... more»
Attempts to liberate the Middle East, to bring it democracy, are a series of failures going back to Napoleon, who marched into Cairo declaring, “I have come to restore your rights!”... more»
Mortification of the flesh in the cause of self-perfection and memory of the sufferings of Christ was once the meaning of Lent. These days, it’s about dieting and fitness... more»
“I think there’s something in me of that same weakness that is so apparent in John McEnroe,” says James Watson. “I just can’t sit while people are saying nonsense”... more»
Soldiers of Greece and Rome fought within codes of military conduct. It’s more than mere theory for a philosopher to teach them to future Navy and Marine Corps officers... more»
America is seen around the world as an arrogant empire, says Fareed Zakaria ... If it’s McDonald’s vs Islam, the Pope might have sympathy for Islam ... The real dangers will come after the war ... Saddam’s Tough Love ... Iraqi officers remember 1991 ... How to tell if we’re winning: a score card ... Baghdad and Troy ... Michael Walzer’s Right Way ... Who’s us?, asks G. William Domhoff ... Robert Fisk on the fate of Baghdad ... Democracy in Iraq ... Time’s up ... Why they love Saddam ... The perils of invasion ... Our very own 1914... Justice must be done.
To the Finland Station came out in 1940: not the best moment for a book whose hero is Lenin. The murderous Stalin had a pact with Hitler, and Trotsky’s head had been split open with an ice axe... more»
Experts once predicted that we’d have nuclear-power vacuum cleaners and mile-high skyscrapers. Now they fret about genetically altering human nature. Steven Pinker has some calming words... more»
Yankee go home: an oft-heard cry in the last fifty years. It’ll happen, sooner rather than later. Why would the Yanks want to hang around in a Eurabia ruled by Sharia law anyway?... more»
The 1960s: cults, drugs, rock, sex, protest, Hermann Hesse, Vietnam, revolution, flower power, and kitsch. For good or ill, it made us what we are. Camille Paglia tells the story... more»
Aldous Huxley, in so many ways a man of Enlightenment, never felt the mass of men were capable of seeing an Inner Light. But his own eyes were poor, as Clive James explains... more»
Paul Valéry in his Notebooks set out to do for intellection what Dante had done for the spirit and Balzac for men and women in society: to write a Comedy of the Mind... more»
Oriana Fallaci loathes war. But when peace stands for surrender, fear, loss of dignity and freedom, phony appeasement, and blackmail, it’s no longer peace. It’s suicide... more»
Wittgenstein said that if people never did silly things, nothing intelligent could happen. If progress depends on stupidity, we’re in good shape... more»
The pompous philosophizing of Don DeLillo, his apocalyptic posturing, and his brainy yet studly protagonist make for a new, deeply silly novel... more»
The contemporary novel has become overburdened with facts and cultural reference. Too much “stuff,” says James Wood... more»
Gin was the crack cocaine of 18th-century England, having begun its awful work before attempts at control. We’ve always panicked over drugs... more»
“As flies to wanton boys, are we to the gods; They kill us for their sport.” In the quest to redeem meaning from evil, only Job is Lear’s true peer... more»
Sometimes in a bookshop you’ll pick up a book and shake your head, asking, What was the publisher thinking? This is just so dumb... more»
Histories of witchcraft contain an unargued assumption: that nearly all of the witches killed between 1450 and 1750 were women. The surprise is... more»
Tactless and crude: his Kremlin colleagues were “peeing dogs,” Gromyko was “a piece of shit.” Yet Nikita Khrushchev kept a hold on power... more»
André Breton worked for the Voice of America in the 1940s and stood by democracy in the Cold War: both utopian leftist and neocon avant la lettre... more»
Old photographs are for W.G. Sebald catalysts for writing: like the rotting apples in Balzac’s desk drawer or Proust’s madeleine... more»
Cleopatra knew what awaited her if she returned to Rome as prisoner of Augustus: to be dragged through the streets and killed. She chose her asp... more»
America’s foes may be fanatics, but they’re not primitive; they make cunning use of laptops, the Internet, and cell phones to coordinate their attacks... more»
Henry James, a great writer of dialogue? He complained that Wilde’s characters spoke like Wilde; but too many of James’s sound like James... more»
Religion promises us that the misery and futility of existence can be overcome. Add a kind God, and believers should be happy. Would it were... more»
Not all terrorists come from far away. Ted Kaczynski was filled with a “glorious hope” that he might murder someone, do things “daring and criminal”... more» ... more»
A just war must be waged in a just cause. Expected good must exceed expected evil, it must aim at a proper peace, and it must be a last resort... more»
Charles Darwin possessed a huge fortune and could do anything he wanted. He chose to dissect barnacles under the microscope, day in and day out, for eight years... more»
Didn’t Philip Larkin tell us that sexual intercourse began in 1963? And what did they do for sex before then? Oh, that began in 1712... more» ... more»
“Our minds are just what our brains non-miraculously do,” says Daniel Dennett, “and the talents of our brains had to evolve like every other marvel of nature”... more»
What is it about blonde hair that brings out a dark side of human nature? Caligula, Nero, Hitler, and Hitchcock were all in thrall to blondes... more»
Public disenchantment with the news media is palpable. But is the solution to this problem to incorporate satire and fiction into the news?... more»
Tragedy and hope. Those most repelled by war are perhaps the very people who will decide that some things are, after all, worth fighting for... more»
Faced with Beethoven’s soulful romanticism and Verdi’s fiery nationalism, Rossini made the right choice: to step aside and evade his century... more»
Only about 200 U.S. colleges reject more applicants than they accept. Most take 80%+, but for the best the acceptance game is a Darwinian struggle... more»
Let’s pay tribute to some brave Iraqis. From fanaticism, fear, or the impulse to defend their homeland, they have charged Abrams tanks on motorcycles... more»
Lanchesters Square Law: used to model conflicts from ancient times to Trafalgar to WWI to Iwo Jima, it may tell us about the war in Iraq... more»
Sure, and Reagan kept a copy of Derrida by his bed, too. From Socrates to Stendhal to Ken Kesey, the candidates try to impress us with their reading lists... more»
New Zealand ought to be one of the world’s fastest-growing countries, a dynamic magnet for ambitious people looking for a better life. In reality... more»
War is no-limit poker: the very best advantage in gambling, as in war, may lie in not playing at all. But if play you must, bet all and win... more»
Supreme Commander: when it comes to hand-on military command, George W. Bush works more on his father’s model than Abe Lincoln’s... more»
Churchill admired Mussolini, and even Stalin, as perverted embodiments of a heroic ideal. The only answer to them, he knew, might be war... more»
It may indeed be a war “unlike any other in history,” but there are precedents, from Stonewall Jackson to Hitler to Patton to Vietnam... more». Ralph Peters says “ignore the journalists.”
Is the Middle East ill-suited to democracy? Can America, or anyone else, impose it from without? Are home-grown models showing signs of life?... more»
Dante imagined vivid tortures – his butchered bodies and rivers of fire – because he believed in a soul; our world tortures because it doesn’t believe... more»
Paleoconservatives are at the throats of neocons as never before in a vitriolic feud over Iraq... more». Whose war?, asks Pat Buchanan, a man called “unpatriotic” by David Frum ... Novak on Frum ... Frum on Novak.
War is hell. And on our TV screens it’s confusing as hell. “Oooh, that was a big noise,” exclaims Dan Rather. It’ll give Saddam “the willies”... more». And the winner is... Al Jazeera
Daniel Cohn-Bendit owes his very life to the Americans, but why, he wonders, are they now behaving like Bolsheviks in the Russian Revolution?... more»
Many of the advocates of the benefits of an imperial America are men not born in the U.S. To see why, look no farther than the British Empire... more»
Behind the new face of Islamic terror is a writer whose weird, paranoid, hysterical fascism appeals to multitudes. Who answers Sayyid Qutb?... more»
The idea that war carries a near-certain risk of mass civilian death, that whole societies must be obliterated in war was made obsolete by the Tomahawk missile... more»
What other misconceptions he may cherish, Saddam has never fooled himself that he is loved. He knows that should he fall, Iraqis will tear his body apart... more»... more»
You know the myth: women in Asia or Africa carry their babies close to their bodies all day, breastfeed them. And you’re supposed to believe their babies never cry... more»
Saddam was admired once as a thoughtful, articulate member of the socialist-revolutionary party. Friends recall idealistic bull-sessions with him about Iraq’s future... more»
Slowly, obscurely, enunciated with difficulty in thick Texas accents, a new doctrine of world order is emerging: an overdue neo-colonialism... more»
To object to a new law because it puts us on “a slippery slope” is a cliché, to be sure. But it can also identify important truths, says Eugene Volokh... more»
Over 43 million U.S. workers own stock in the companies that employ them. Great, huh? Except when everyones a capitalist, capitalism may stop working... more»
The deaf Beethoven took the legs off a piano so he could sit on the floor and sense the vibrations. He’d improvise for hours, feeling but not hearing a note... more»
New Zealand has given up the Americas Cup to landlocked Switzerland. The victory came from great sailing, plus polymer technology, fluid mechanics, and advanced optics... more»
A biographer is “a novelist under oath” to tell a good story without making anything up. But the line between biography and fiction is getting blurred... more»
If you want poetry that moves you , surprises, or even changes you a little, then good luck. These days it’s the blurbs that soar off the page. The poetry stays put... more»
For postmodernists, truth may be a game. For countless organisms on the planet it is a matter of life and death: survival requires getting it right. Daniel Dennett explains... more»
A single memorable event in life, says Charles Dickens, can create a “long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for that first link”... more»
Joseph Stalin died as he lived: filled with hatred and paranoia, cursing the world... Johann Hari ... Jonathan Freedland ... Anne Applebaum ... Stefan Wagstyl ... Andrei Zolotov ... Vitali Vitaliev ... Jan Dalley
Garrison Keillor, without a trace of satire, has written a bitter, mournful song about the Rhode Island dance hall fire... more» ... text, audio. Speaking of topical songs, Tom Lehrer is still out and about.
A jolly good wine? No, no. Not when it can be a “brash wine, gushing black cherries, peach-scented oranges, raisins, cocoa, licorice, crushed violets, and wet dog.” Wet dog?... more»
The stereotype of the ugly American — voracious, preachy, mercenary, and bombastically chauvinist — was firmly in place in 19th-century Europe, says Simon Schama... more»
A woman who had herself cloned would be mother and twin sister to her clone. This is the height of hubris and despotism, incest scientifically perfected. That’s one view... more»
The scientist-therapist gap that still plagues psychology is now a war involving deeply held beliefs, political passions, views of human nature and, alas, money... more»
How much of Aldous Huxley’s work can be read for inspiration or insight in our time? Regrettably, very little. Maybe that’s his fault, or maybe it’s ours... more»
How do you spot bogus science? The whole point of pseudoscience, of course, is that it will try to look legit. Physicist Robert Park offers seven warning signs... more»
What’s fundamentalism? A mix of pedantry and partisanship, an abiding necrophilia toward the rigid, enbalmed words of sacred scripture, says Terry Eagleton... more»
Whats Left and whats Right in Iraq? What’s the difference? Bush & Co. have trouble with this question, but the Left in Europe and the U.S. is completely at sea... more» ... more»
The ugly universe: Albert Einstein’s elegant theory of gravity may need, against his fondest hopes, a damnably awkward and messy supplement... more»
“I never read a book before reviewing it,” said the Rev. Sidney Smith, “it prejudices a man so.” It’s advice many book critics hardly need, observes David Sexton... more»
V.S. Naipaul’s mix of news and irony evokes street-corner gossip in the West Indies: lively, trenchant, pitiless, centering on money, religion, and dashed hopes ... more»
Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. For introverts, says Jonathan Rauch, the motto is, “I’m okay, you’re okay — in small doses”... more»
Malnutrition in the midst of plenty is a fact of urban life. How pointless to blame it on supermarket chains or fast food outlets. The sources are deeper, argues Theodore Dalrymple... more»
A bad day in Zimbabwe is just any normal day. For a foreign reporter, it’s a nightmare, but you get to wake up. For the unhappy souls who live in that wretched, desperate land... more»
Public apology, quite the fashion in business and government, offers hypocrites a chance to claim sacred, legitimate authority. Marina Warner explains how... more»
Illegal music on the Net is a threat “pervasive, out of control, and criminal,” a matter of life and death. Oh? Does creativity really require copyright protection?... more»
Our long and lonely struggle against Baathist fascism will soon end, says Ahmed Chalabi. Liberation is at hand. It is we, and not a U.S. general, who must shape our future... more» ... more» Two cheers for Saddam, or maybe one.
A radically new idea is in the air, says John Brockman: a realistic biology of mind that can unite the sciences and arts in one culture and revise our view of the human species... more»
Henrik Ibsen shows us beauty in form and ideas. All is dreams and sexual madness for August Strindberg. These intense dramatists are violent, necessary opposites... more»
A successful Iraqi war can spur on those who want an Arab world free from oppression and decay, says Fouad Ajami. The U.S. can show it’s on the side of democracy... more» ... a view from the Left.
When Khrushchev strutted across the world stage in his bad suits, spewing bombast and cornpone, he seemed a buffoon. He was anything but... more»
Shock and Awe is the plan for an attack on Iraq, but military plans seldom survive enemy contact. A rag-tag Iraqi army armed with anthrax... more»
Do animals have minds? How does the world seem from inside the mind of a dog or a sparrow? Wittgenstein was obsessed by these issues... more» ... more» ... more»
Nietzsche’s highly mobile style of thought struggled to break away from inherited moral and metaphysical systems. Hence his reliance on the aphorism... more»
Did the “culture of despair” taught at Harvard in the 1950s help make the Unabomber the man he later became? One philosopher thinks so... more»
Unlike Verdi, Puccini was not so big on kings, queens, and epic history. Date-rape and cocaine would be his subjects were he alive today... more»
Roast beef was a sign of John Bull’s 18th-century identity: eaten in staggering helpings, it showed contempt for foppish French egg-and-cream cuisine... more»
In 1943 Josef Goebbels charged the Soviets with mass murder in Katyn Forest. Stalin denied it and blamed the Nazis. No one believed Goebbels... more»
So why is Australia a major exporter of enraged radical feminists (Germaine Greer, et al.)? Set your mind on a typical Aussie joke... more»
Medieval Islam had no way to know that Europe, long seen as a barbaric backwater, was about to develop a new kind of civilization... more»
Joseph Roth saw Nazism rise in the smoke of burning books, “mechanized orangutans, armed with hand grenades, poison gas, nitroglycerine”... more» ... more»
You can love a religion, along with its language and culture, grieve for its wounds and losses, and still want to fight its evils. Consider Islam... more»
Abraham Lincoln: “the original baboon,” said his Secretary of War, a “played out imbecile.” Indeed, he had been a political hack and hanger-on... more»
Israel accepted reparations from Germany in the 1950s and took German cars into Israel, says Daniel Barenboim. So what’s wrong with playing Wagner?... more»
Norman Mailer: thaumaturgist of orgasm, metaphysician of the gut, psychic herb-doctor, and novelist who has laid waste to his own talent. Or maybe not quite... more»
Post-Stravinsky, Robert Craft has gone on writing his carping essays. His real talent was always as ventriloquist, using a genius for his dummy... more»
The Grateful Dead show how the free pursuit of art can morph into a huge culture business, an amazing, traveling capitalist commune... more»
William O. Douglas was a liar to rival Baron Munchausen: a bored, distracted, irresponsible, even unethical Supreme Court justice. That’s for starters... more»
Po Bronson is able to elicit gut-wrenching confessions of anorexia, self-loathing, and suicide from people. But, hey, he’s an angel of mercy, and readers lap it up... more»
The youth of today are a sad, cheated generation, co-opted by product placement, viral marketing, and luxury goods. Smelling salts, please... more»
Capitalism must be replaced, says Naomi Klein. But what with? Well, uh, let’s put people before profits! Okay, and then what?... more»
To satirize the modern academy is a challenge, but Frederick Crews rises to it. Meet Carla Gulag, Joe Camel Professor of Child Development at Duke... more»
Jean Kerr’s happiness recipe: find a nice, literate husband and a big Victorian house, fill it with clever kids and slobbery dogs, and toss off witty essays in your leisure time... more»
Every day, in courts across the land, expert-witness doctors, economists, engineers, and psychologists raise their right hand and swear to tell the truth. Do they?... more»
Heres to you, Mrs. Robinson. How could anyone see The Graduate and not regret the hero went off with the daughter and not the mother. Paul Theroux wonders... more»
An eye for an eye, for the tribal people who codified the rule, is not a recipe for violence, but an attempt to contain it... more» New Guinea at the brink.
In 1990, Castro sent a mission to persuade Saddam of the wisdom of leaving Kuwait. Alcibíades Hidalgo, a member of the delegation, tells a story... more»
There’s a functioning, civil core of global polity, maybe 4 billion people. The other 2 billion will be a future source of violence. They live in the Gap... more»
Harriet Klausner reads 20 books a week. Howard Berg can read a 240-page book in 20 minutes. For Condi Rice “War and Peace was beautiful — in Russian”... more»
Intelligence analysts need to “connect the dots” to see an accurate future. Hard work, and easy to fault, since what may look obvious in hindsight... more»
Ecologists make talk about alien, invasive species sound like anti-immigration rhetoric. Green themes of scarcity, purity, and invasion have disturbing echoes... more»
The universal human tendency to suffer from positive self-illusions not only starts many wars but also raises the chance of winning by bluffing... more»
If environmentalists would let it, DDT could save millions of Africans from dying of malaria... more» ... more». The DDT ban is a deadly imperialism. DDT fact sheet ... African tragedy.
An obsession with stability in international politics means we protect failures and dictators. It’s a mindset left over from the Cold War... more»
Americans are not very good at imperialism, or much interested in it: too innocent, impatient, or high on moral purpose. So the morning after Saddam... more»
For humans, smell isn’t so much for information-gathering as for setting a context for emotion and memory. The perfume industry knows this... more»
The literati tuned up their noses at John P. Marquand. But if we want insight into a bygone WASP world, his books are a stinging place to start... more»
Stalin was killed on order from Beria because he was about to launch World War III against America. The Politburo knew Russia could not win... more»
Botswana’s population was 1.4 million in 1993. It’s now under a million and falling, thanks to AIDS. It may be the first modern nation to die out... more»
Al Qaeda loves the Internet. Long before 9/11, groups like al Qaeda were using the Web’s global village to pursue their causes... more»
The environment now figures in global trade and tariff talks not just for a greener world, argues Alan Oxley, but as an excuse for protectionism... more». So what about Kyoto?
Robert K. Merton, sociologist who eschewed both the grand and the petty for what he called “theories of the middle range,” is dead at age 92... more»
For Enlightenment thinkers, the Jews stood for tribalism and irrational tradition. Judaism wallowed in myth, branding Spinoza a heretic... more»
Repression bad, expression good. So goes an ideology now in doubt. Maybe the best thing for that traumatic experience is to shut up and forget it... more»
Is Joseph Conrad a racist? He is, says Chinua Achebe. Heart of Darkness presents an Africa as where man’s spirit is mocked by triumphant bestiality... more»
Prokofievs War and Peace is now an opera about Tolstoy’s 19th century. But not long ago it was rather more sinister: a tale of Stalin’s 20th... more»
The Great American Parade is perhaps the worst novel ever published in English. Its central point is that the Bush tax cuts are poor fiscal policy... more»
Yales Sex Week press release was pretty exciting, though it indicated that Yale ought first to institute a gala Grammar and Spelling Week... more»
George Orwell plainly regarded the eclipse of objective truth as a danger. What then is the truth about Orwell?... more» Menand, Wieseltier, and Hitchens.
Robert Conquest joined the Party in 1937, yet communists struck him as “dull and stupid.” Mind you, he could recite Dante in Provençal... more»
The French buy novels and read them by the metric ton. But is French fiction brave enough to face a potent new reality beyond Paris? Patrick Erouart-Siad wonders... more»
East is east, west is west, and Kim is Kim: a complex, thrilling, and beautiful story that resists academic attempts to turn it into a foil for postcolonial ideology... more»
“Table tennis is, for me, one of those world-blotting-out activities, the ultimate escape.” Sports fads come and go, but Ping-Pong persists... more»
“No to war!” says Pope John Paul. “War is not always inevitable. It is always a defeat for humanity”... more» The Pope is wrong: we must topple Saddam, argues Michael Novak.
Apprentice Shinto-fascists, young, avid, well-scrubbed super-patriots, are one of the curiosities enjoyed by those who teach in today’s Japan, writes Tom Bradley... more»
Like Mendel, Charles Darwin crossed sweet peas, and noted the variation of result did not include mixing. He was tantalizingly close to the genetics he needed... more»
It takes more than a village to raise a child, it takes a nation, argues Jim Sleeper. Only nations have the size, diversity, and legal status to affirm and sustain the liberal-democratic polity... more»
Why is Michael Jackson such a genius? Who, if anyone, taught him to dance like that? How can he hit those high notes with unerring accuracy? He’s so, uh, wonderful... more»
The phony “liberal media” idea is one of many weapons conservative and corporate forces use to reorder U.S. society to their liking, argues Eric Alterman... more» ... more» ... more»
Bjørn Lomborg: a Galileo burned at the stake by fanatics of Green religion, or a scientist guilty of dishonesty without intent, whatever that is?... Reason ... Economist ... Telegraph ... Nat’l Post ... TechCentral ... IHT ... NRO ... Scripps Howard ... Spectator ... TomPaine ... Spiked ... Lomborg’s response at his homepage and in the Wall Street Journal. Longer AEI article.
Weblogs are rich tapestries of something-or-other, crazy quilts of community, fact, humor, opinion, bile, and lust. Sort of... more»
A scientist will one day explain the mystery of smell and be given a Nobel prize. At least till then, sex will sell perfume, at the usual 95% markup ... more»
Reverend Dawkins’s new book of sermons, his tragic vision of a cold and indifferent universe, may get him stoned by a mob. Prophets often are... more»
Daniel Dennett’s rush of ideas, his bouncing enthusiasm, zesty metaphors, asides, and funny diagrams mark him out from other philosophers... more» ... more» ... more»
Libertarianism and autocracy are both ruled out as adequate political systems if we work from an evolved human nature. But democracy suits... more»
If the American Dream is many things to many people, it still has one idea at its heart: it is possible in America to rise from nothing to greatness... more»
It is a striking fact that Richard Sennett could write an entire book about the idea of respect without once using the dreaded word respectability ... more»
“Capital punishment does not make murderers suffer enough.” To see how that impulse might be satisfied, we should turn to Dante Alighieri... more»
China is today placing in psychiatric prisons dissidents whose crimes are political. They are not insane, they are victims of psychiatric terror... more»
“Heaven and Earth are ruthless, and treat the myriad creatures as straw dogs.” Maybe. But however cruel the universe, we’re part of the miracle... more»
“American culture is like the AIDS virus: infectious, self-transforming, and lethal.” It can seem like that, says Todd Gitlin, to the America-haters... more»
Churchill understood Hitler as a kind of man, but Hitler had no idea of Churchill: a “puppet of Jewry,” “political prostitute” who was “off his head”... more»
It’s the brawny power of Mars that allows Europe to play frail, peace-loving Venus in the first place. Not a healthy symbiosis, says Robert Kagan... more»
American studies: at least it is not a propaganda arm of the government. Too bad those who teach it can’t rise above their own propaganda... more»
It is beginning to look like a large number of young, healthy married people are forgoing sex for long periods or have given it up altogether ... more»
Carlo Feltrinelli wants to pay homage to his terrorist father. Instead, he reveals a morally bankrupt postwar Italian intellectual culture... more»
Evolutionary psychology: is it fashionable ideology hiding bad politics, or an important new science? Some minds are made up ... more»
When it came to emotion, the Greeks had a word for it, if not a whole thesaurus. Scholars are discovering the richness of emotions in history ... more»
“I was an absolutely beautiful child,” says historian Andrew Roberts, without a trace of irony. “I don’t need to boast, but it’s so hard not to”... more»
The IPCC’s predictions for global warming are valid, if we accept that incomes in Libya and North Korea will overtake the U.S. by 2100: a new, big mistake... more» ... more»
He didn’t want to devote his life to helping the rich get richer, so he decided to teach poor kids in an inner-city school. A noble ideal, a sad story ... more»
Barbecue: molasses sweet vs hot pepper and the sourness of vinegar, coating slow-smoked, succulent ribs. It’s primal. It’s sublime... more»
The irreverent João Magueijo may be a new Richard Feynman in physics. However, Feynman didn’t go around saying he was the next Einstein... more»
McDonaldization of the world? No chance. Manufacture may favor a uniform commodity. But human taste yearns for the local or the offbeat... more»
America has two faces: the richest nation on the planet, it has higher rates of poverty, infant death, and murder than other democracies... more»
The Great War killed more than just soldiers. The “patriotism” of 1914 also led people to cut foreign economic ties. The costs were incalculable... more»
The cost of an Iraq war may be low, but a successful peace looks very pricy, says William Nordhaus. A botched peace? The most expensive of all... more»
Call them hasbians. Women who came out of the closet only to end up back in the arms of a man. Switching teams isn’t easy, no matter which side you’re on... more»
We accept Beethoven’s Eroica or his Emperor not as idealistic music cast aside by history, but as works evoking real human possibility for today... more»
In 1914 the world could rejoice in 60 years of peace, progress, and globalization, with a bright future of technology and free trade. Then one morning in Sarajevo... more»
When James Watson said “the best home for a feminist is in another person’s lab,” he unwittingly turned Rosalind Franklin into the Sylvia Plath of molecular biology... more»
Looking for revenge on that rotten former boyfriend? Make a homepage in his name where he brags about being a liar and ex-con with scabies. Let Google do the rest... more»
Euripides, Bad Boy of Athens, was a postmodernist before his time, slyly reworking old myths to amuse his audience with ever more deranged women... more»
A new Führer appears, needs a State Architect, and asks advice from Albert Speer on whom to pick. “Well, I hope Philip Johnson will not mind if I mention his name”... more»
“Communism,” George Sand said, puffing her cigar, “is the real Christianity.” What should be done with the bones of this libertine novelist, lover of Frédéric Chopin?... more»
So who’s got the most culture? Brits or Krauts? Beethoven vs Elgar, Nietzsche vs Russell, Dürer vs Turner, yodeling vs Morris dancing, Bayreuth vs... more» ... Compare.
The doctor wanted her to die on a Monday. Euthanasia was so emotionally draining. Mondays were the easiest days for him to take off... more»
While human form might have excited Leonardo da Vinci, he cared little for people: “sacks for food” he called them, “fillers-up of privies”... more»
Gain some extra weight over the holidays? Worried about the bad health effects of that fat? So what are you going to do? How about: nothing... more»
Hugh Trevor-Roper, historian who probed deep into the minds of the Nazi elite but who fell for the Hitler diaries, is dead at 89... NYT ... Independent ... BBC ... Telegraph ... Frank Johnson ... London Times ... Guardian ... Philip Hensher ... interview ... He saw ghosts ... Frank Johnson
If reality naturally divided itself up into neat little bullet points, PowerPoint would be the way to present it. But reality... more» ... more». Edward Tufte on PowerPoint. Lincoln needed PowerPoint at Gettysburg. One mom uses PowerPoint on the kids.
North Korea: 400,000 perished from persecution, 150,000 in prison, two million starved to death. Suki Kim came home, but could not stop crying... more»
Oriana Fallaci leaps about like a spunky teenage girl, enjoying fine wines and cigarettes. But it’s not the breast cancer that threatens her: it’s Islam... more» ... more»
Have all the interesting issues been defined out of economics? Or are the so-called interesting issues simply the politics of left-wing economists?... more»
Intellectual life is optional now for students. Once admitted to university, a smart student can coast, drink beer, and still easily maintain a B+ average... more»
In the firestorm air raids on Germany, children were boiled alive in water meant to put out fires. No one has wanted to know... more» ... more»
Mickey and the gang now have the bad news: another 20 years on the Disney plantation. But Mickey’s a rodent with guts, willing to speak out... more»
Unstable, unequal, unclean: capitalism has been called all this and worse, but Bill Emmott sees it as the one system that can work... Michael Lind ... Peter Preston ... ... Will Hutton.
Royal mistresses: the male half of a liaison is enhanced by it, the female diminished. Double standard or no, fun is had along the way... more»
Thomas Hobbes was certain that monarchy was the best form of rule for a species whose life was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short... more»
If that vast mafia of parasite princes we call Saudi Arabia were guilty only of ignorance, prejudice, and brutality, it would be bad enough... more»
Dogs cannot write their own history, but from Pleistocene to present there is no question they have left their pawprints on ours... more»
Classical music offers not just melody and rhythm, but an emotional and intellectual world that pop music eschews... more». And it’s not dying.
Have children become victims of our luxury economy, slaves to villainous corporate greed? Alissa Quart is sure the answer is yes... more» ... more»
Instead of aiming like Mozart to please, Beethoven sought to arouse and even alarm listeners. Yet his music was the ultimate defense against darkness... more»
François Bizot was taken by the Khmer Rouge yet lived to tell the tale in a searing, exquisite, and bitter story of absolute revolution ... more» ... more»
George W. Bush was ridiculed for saying that Jesus was his favorite philosopher. But how absurd is it to call Jesus a philosopher?... more»
After professing literature for 40 years, Elaine Showalter has advice for young colleagues. Wear a different tie, if not a different suit, daily... more»
The American Revolution’s real losers were France (bankrupt), blacks (enslaved), and women (unable to vote). But nothing’s perfect... more»
A philosopher was what he was to be, so René Descartes set himself up as a drone, a parasite on his family’s fortune... more»
W.D. Hamilton wanted at the end to be eaten by Amazonian beetles: “They will live on my flesh; and in the shape of their children and mine, I will escape death. I will buzz in the dusk like a huge bumble bee”... more»
We’re all moved by the death of the Shuttle astronauts, just not that moved. It’s a tragedy, for sure, a real shock. But... John Balzar ... Robert Kuttner ... Will Leitch ... William Powers. Hold the scorn, says Jonah Goldberg ... poems by Howard Nemerov.
In the late 19th century, under the Raj, the wealth of India grew markedly. After a tea break for most of the 20th century, India’s getting back to work. Deepak Lal explains ... more»
Conservatism is not a political credo only, but a lasting vision of human society, says Roger Scruton: hard to perceive, harder still to communicate, and hardest of all to act upon ... more»
For the relativist, the test for the truth of any idea is purely subjective: “Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great.” A mildly exasperated Simon Blackburn explains ... more» ... more»
The college radicals of yesterday, says Daphne Patai, have become the proscribing professors of today. The Web can give their students a way to fight back... more»
The U.S. has been wrong in the past about Iraq, says David Remnick. The price of being wrong again may be incalculable... more». The Kenneth Pollack view, the dovish Matthew Parris, Tod Lindberg on deterrence theory ... The smoking gun? ... Julie Burchill, anti-American.
Ms. Kylie Minogue has been named Greatest Living Australian. Not much competition, Norman Lebrecht wisecracks, but what really does the word “great” mean?... more»
Economist Hernando de Soto named his dogs Marx and Engels because “they are German, hairy, and have no respect for property.” It’s a very carefully chosen joke... more»
Computer software is the best analogy for genes, says Richard Dawkins, which is why Prince Charles and other luddites can’t get it. Not to worry: their children will... more»
Are college students more ignorant now than they were in the 1950s? Joseph Epstein, who once might have guessed Diaghilev was a city in the Ukraine, thinks they are just less embarrassed about it... more»
Genetic determinism? It is not a threat to human freedom, says Daniel Dennett. The more we know about genes that limit our choices, the freer we are to act against them... more»
Anti-Europeanism in America: Pens are dipped into acid and lips curled to pillory the morally aimless “Euroids,” “’peens,” “Euroweenies.” Timothy Garton Ash explains... more»
Suicide is an act that can have immense consequences. But it is itself a consequence of biology reacting to the vagaries of life experience... more»
Anti-Americanism in Europe: If it can find it, Europe needs an America it can both respect and admire. It’s looking harder than most Americans know. Eric Alterman explains... more»
The British Royal Family may be primitive, grasping, sadistic, and even stupid. However, says Glen Newey, “they’re our own, and we cannot but love them”... more»
“I hate my father, I’m ambivalent about my son and I dislike myself,” says novel-writer and navel-gazer Michel Houellebecq. “But I want to be cloned as soon as possible”... more»
Scientists may wax lyrical about the beauty, majesty, and subtlety of the universe, but they deny it any purpose. It’s a strategy that leaves Paul Davies uneasy... more»
Holocaust art, like Hiroshima art, comes to us as a form of aesthetic blackmail, defying us not to be moved when so vast a suffering is invoked... more» ... more»
If you had the President’s ear, what would you advise him was the most urgent scientific issue the country faces? Energy? Stem-cell research? Bioterror? Science teaching?... more»
Cultural melting-pot America has a technological advantage in its idea-sharing, willingness to listen to youth, and cheerful acceptance of failure, says Nicholas Negroponte... more»
“That two-ton iron cannister marked BUG SPRAY, DO NOT BREATHE in the garden shed at Palace 38 — please take it to a high rooftop in Baghdad and...” Saddams last will... more»
It’s feminisms core moral idea: women are due the same rights and dignity as men. So what are the West’s feminists doing to help their sisters under Islam?... more»
The golden ratio crops up in more places in art and music than any number except pi — from the Great Pyramid to Leonardo to Debussy... more»
American unilateralism on the one side, the chaos of a hundred Osamas on the other. Are these the only alternatives available to the world today?... more»
Is there a philosopher’s equivalent of spooky stories told around a campfire to frighten gullible children? Yes, and his name is Jacques Derrida... more»
Mistrust is not bad in itself. A polity of suckers is no better than a nation of cynics. But both mistrust and trust should be thoughtful, not automatic, says Jedediah Purdy... more»
Stats show that the audience for opera is growing, getting younger, and replenishing itself with listeners under 35. Why? Giacomo Puccini... more»
If he hated Hitler and fascism, how much more did he hate Roosevelt: H.L. Mencken, a rational man unhinged by primitive passions... more»
While never quite as weak as he appeared, either as governor or as candidate against Gore, G.W. Bush is not as strong as he looks today... more»
“Extinguished theologians lie about the cradles of every science as the strangled snakes besides that of Hercules.” Darwin vs religion... more»
Born criminals: men of the wrong race, having the wrong skull shape, and other beastly traits. For Cesare Lombroso it was all so clear... more»
Intellectual stars of the West include Schopenhauer and other heavies: but the open minded will also spare a place for P.G. Wodehouse... more»
Christopher Hitchens views the Free Speech Movement as ironic in outcome: the radicals did win the city of Berkeley, but Reagan in the end won the country... more»
Squeamish namby-pamby European wimp Ian Buruma thinks that on the topic of war and democracy in Iraq and its neighbors, it’s time for everyone to get ideal... more»
William Shakespeare, who saw deep into our hearts, knew a truth we don’t want to face: there is no technical fix, no drug or device, that can cure a sickness of the spirit... more»
James Burnham went from Marx to a belief in liberty as the Founding Fathers conceived it: an intellectual journey that started in Moscow but ended in Philadelphia... more»
The trouble with Americans is that they seldom feel really poor. They’re just pre-rich, blessed with a cussed optimism that’s forever crowding out sensible Marxist notions... more»
Must peace always be thought of as unexciting, a mere yawning absence of war, a dull interlude between battles? Ariel Dorfman asks the question and tells a story... more»
Is Elvis Presley immortal? Maybe. But his fans are not and, unlike Mozart, he’s not forever spawning new generations of listeners... more»
Jans a great woman,” he said. “But her eyebrows were better 20 years ago. Now they’re too plucked. She was very hot and sexy. Now she’s suing everybody”... more»
Family disorganization is now more important than either race or income to explain violent crime, including gang crime. Why have Americans so weakened families?... more»
For Richard Sennett, love of craft can give a sense of self-worth that does not depend on others’ notions of merit. Craft for him is a source of profound pleasure... more»
It once seemed a bright idea for the U.S. to smuggle copies of the Koran into the Soviet Union to incite an Islamic revival. How times change, observes Joan Didion... more»
Economic inequalities are rising in the Third World, but this will make no difference if the incomes of the poor are rising too. Unless the income rise itself is an illusion... more»
Imagine a game of Twister refereed by Casanova and the entire Académie Française, with video advice from the Marquis de Sade. It’s the new edition of The Joy of Sex... more»
Modern Jazz’s new wave aligned itself with modern art and eschewed the prime features of 1920-1950 classic jazz: accessibility, humor, and a capacity for joy... more»
Ross and Shawn: two of the great tunnel-vision geniuses and obsessive nitpickers of 20th-century journalism. They made the New Yorker... more»
“When most pretty girls smile at you,” he said, “you feel terrific. When Mary McCarthy smiles at you, you look to see if your fly is open”... more»
Alexey Brodovitch invented the idea of magazine designer as genius. His Harper’s Bazaar was the place where avant-garde art met fashion... more»
It was the genius of the West, says Roger Scruton, to have divided church from state, giving the church its own rights and legal jurisdiction... more»
Ernst Gombrich’s last book on the puzzle of taste is a troubled coda, going against the very principles of a lifetime of scholarly work... more»
For John Gray, “human life has no more meaning than the life of slime mould.” His aim is to do for humanism what Dawkins did for religion... more»
Multiculturalism: if it is the answer, what was the question? Whether you’re left or right, if you believe in equality before the law... more»
Read to the end of a review by the erudite Louis Menand, and you think, yep, subject closed. Not much to get excited about, to love or to hate... more»
In July 1990, Susan J. Brison, a young philosophy professor, was raped, strangled, and left for dead. She survived, and yet she was murdered... more»
The British Empire was built on nicotine, caffeine, and sugar, the American Empire on fried chicken, burgers, and pizza. Empires need a health warning... more» ... more»
“Who finds minds and who lines shines and two kinds finds and two kinds minds. Minds it.” Gertrude Stein: lesbian, Jew, experimentalist... more»
It may seem strange to place an antique gilt frame around a Picasso. But in a way, framing is interpreting, and Picasso is by now an Old Master... more»
Uniforms are despised in much current rhetoric about clothes. Of course, uniforms are in truth what most people secretly prefer to wear... more»
Lying rules. If not even Kant could keep from telling a lie, what’s the hope for the rest of us? A convicted perjurer has an idea or two... more»
What shall we do? How shall we live? What’s right? What’s wrong? We’d never be able to answer such questions without the help of ethicists... more»
Writers have taken drugs, often in heroic amounts. And what is the literary result? Have drugs given us a new Prophet Ezekiel or William Blake?... more»
Homosexuals and Jews, once outsiders, have replaced WASP aristocrats as tastemakers, says Joseph Epstein, just a tiny bit wistfully... more»
Now don’t go imagining that smoking is good for you or anything. Don’t do it, even to avoid Alzheimer’s. Still, the strange truth is that... more»
What tourist who motored about France in 1911 would you least expect to be writing road and hotel reports for the AA? Rudyard Kipling... more»
John McWhorter was called nigger once. He didn’t weep, or call a rally in front of City Hall. He knows white trash when he sees it. He didn’t care... more»
Disaster films might be the only optimistic artistic genre left, says Slavoj Zízek, the only way we can imagine a Utopia of social solidarity... more»
The Pooh paradox. He’s a bear who delights kids. Grownups who control him have gotten rich. And this being showbiz, so have their lawyers... more»
The U.S. can contain Iraq even if Saddam has nukes, just as it contained the Soviet Union in the Cold War. This war does not have to be fought... more»
How did gay-seeming straight and all-around Sensitive Male, descendant of feminists, end up on a bus, searching for Playboy Playmates?... more»
All the decent people who buy SUVs with the idea that they are safe or chic must recognize that their vehicles are pollution-spewing hogs... more»
“Philosophy, contemplation of the unknown, is a shrinking dominion,” says E.O. Wilson. Let’s turn as much philosophy as we can into science... more»
Norms are changing. Blame it on Vietnam, higher education, feminism, the pill, or...who can know what else? The Zeitgeist does keep its secrets... more»
Global Scapegoat No. 1, that’s the IMF. No matter what it advises, someone’s got a better idea. When things go sour, we know who to blame... more»
Kim Jong Il is a movie fan. His tastes also run to Hennessy at $630 a bottle, pizza, lobster, Bordeaux, karaoke, leggy blondes, and nukes... more»
Just when coffee drinking was taking a dive in the 1980s and it looked like Coke and Pepsi would capture the caffeine market, along came... more»
The American Empire has become in a place like Iraq the last hope for democracy in a violent, chaotic world, says Michael Ignatieff... more».
The power of positive clutter. People don’t spread paper over their desks out of laziness. No, it represents what’s going on in their heads... more»
A homeless man lies asleep in a urine-stained doorway, filthy, in danger of freezing. What if he refuses to go to a shelter? Who are we to force him?... more»
There are a few big world media companies that control access to news, killing robust reporting and driving out local content. Well, maybe not... more»
“Untimely death,” “branding,” “on the ground,” and “frozen tundra.” A few of this year’s clichés and tautologies to bury. “Now, more than ever”... more»
Obsessive, uncompromising: the men who’ve fought for liberty in China are not easy, friendly types, but they prove the Chinese care about political freedom... more»
So your resolve in the new year is firm: for the sake of better health you’ll exercise more, lose some weight, and stop that drinking. Not so fast!... more»
Neither answering machine nor fax. No microwave, no DVD burner, no Palm Pilot. We forget that life without gizmos and gadgets is still life... more»
Americanization haunts the world. Why are the Americans allowed freely to invade every culture? Or are the peoples of the planet doing this to themselves?... more»
Men like dogs ’cause dogs play catch and come along on hikes. But if a mans cat is a genius who can spot the right girl, or charm friends... more»
Salman Rushdie has been writing on fundamentalist Islam, terrorism, and liberty and security for a lot longer than the year since 9/11... more»
Food on nuclear submarines is the finest in the Navy, so an old legend goes. Is it true? Ask at the ‘21’ Club in Manhattan or Emeril’s in New Orleans... more»
The sex trade attracts jargon- spouting college girls who claim to despise it. How nice to find a peep-show dancer who’s not a women’s studies major... more»
The 1960s were a heady time for architects: it was the last decade in which they were treated as demigods. The American landscape still has scars to show for it... more»
Young men in suits clutch CVs, women in bright prints and chunky jewelry talk of post-docs and Homi Bhabha. The MLA is a jittery orgy of power, insecurity, and angst... more»
Before Ritalin, little Tom Bradley set out for his Mormon school each morning, head brimming with amino acids, keen to challenge his teacher’s creationism... more»
The radicalism of 1776 is still with us in the U.S. promotion of a global economy and in a muscular foreign policy bent on expanding democracy, says Francis Fukuyama... more»
Before a writer’s duty to audience, says Philip Pullman, before duty to language, to family or society, comes the greatest duty of all: responsibility to the story itself... more»
Let’s stop deceiving black students into thinking they’ll achieve the same academic success as their white peers, or even be held to white standards, says Phillrs, or even be held to white standards, says Phillip Richards... more».
As we cherish memories of childhood Christmases, let us whisper a thanks to our parents and grandparents who gave us families so richly textured across generations... more»
Imaginary Jews delight us all: they are heroes and victims, says David Mamet, who inspire and entertain us. But who weeps saccharine tears for the actual Jews of Israel?... more»
St Barts, St Kitts, St Lucia? Why go ashore and risk sunstroke, jellyfish, or machetes in the head, when there’s bridge, darts, and napkin-folding on deck? Ah, the Caribbean... more»
Religion, good and bad: its roots lie deep in our ancient evolutionary past, argues David Sloan Wilson. He’s an atheist, but a nice guy too... more» Still, he can’t prove God doesn’t exist.
Accept Christmas for the cliché-ridden holiday that it is: revel in its awful traditionalism. By now, that’s an act of defiance in itself... more». But office parties can make you sick. Christmas? Oh dear... more»
Before oil rose as a weapon to spread a violent, simplistic version of the Saudi Wahabi creed, Muslims were adapting peacefully to the modern world. What went wrong?... more»
Conservatives vs liberals. It is more a matter perhaps of instinct than reason, of jocks vs freaks in a schoolyard. For all that, the gulf bedevils public discourse... more»
Thats Xmas, with an X. For the dour Scrooges of our day, Christmas is really about gluttony, envy, and greed. Worse, Santa is a straight, white male. Who smokes... more»
“Childhood was a sort of gulag for me,” writes Hilary Mantel. “Few people acted with malice towards me. It was just that I was unsuited to being a child”... more»
Marxism: a creed complete with prophet, sacred texts, and a heaven shrouded in mystery. The political system is dead, but the religion lives on.... more»
The mullahs of Iran came to power riding a wave of fear over the Shah’s dreaded secret police, the Savak. Then they renamed and strengthened it... more» ... more» ... more»
Okay, so they’re in bed with a whore. You’d think they’d at least want to make money. But Time Warner is in denial about the AOL’s core value: its monopoly on dirty chat... more»
American universities are not what they used to be, says David Brooks. They’re now a lot more fun, as students regard their professors with suitable condescension... more»
Peaches laid breast-like on a bed of vanilla ice cream, with wild strawberry nipples: Coupe Vénus. A minor idea of chef Auguste Escoffier... more»
Max Beckmann’s idea of a fine night out was to sit alone in black tie, sipping champagne at the bar of an expensive hotel, silently observing... more»
Twist a tiny particle in one part of the universe and instantly, zillions of light years away, another particle turns around. Whoa! Not possible... more»
Is culture a product of human desires or a shaper of them? Steven Pinker likes product. Simon Blackburn argues for shaper... more» ... more»
For all their critics’ carping, doctors have to act, perhaps dramatically, in the absence of certainty. This can lead to tragedy, or triumph... more»
Nutritional nincompoops, anti-candy Puritans, fear-mongers of fat and MSG: the villains who would deny us the pleasures of food... more» ... more»
In romance novels, women lie beneath palms with attentive lovers; in thrillers, men rise to vanquish enemies. Popular fiction knows its audience... more»
Philosophers gossip: Ayer’s philandering, Foucault’s gay sex, Arendt’s affairs. Why bother with hard analysis when cheap moralizing will do?... more»
It still gratifies us today to read George Orwell: we feel ennobled by him. He was a complex man, and thus never an entirely honest one... more»
Isaiah Berlin displays immense respect for the thinkers whose errors he explores. Where others see darkness or villainy, Berlin finds light... more»
Thomas Mann and Goethe shared Olympian aloofness, a desire to conceal, a coldness toward others, and a richly warm love of self... more»
Paul Fussell’s view of uniforms is conservative, square, dry. He dreams of a long-ago time when the postman knew his role and dressed for it... more»
For Milan Kundera the truth of the human condition is found not in the pompous horizons of public life, but in the intricate folds of families... more»
In Bob Woodward’s world you find little history and no chance at all that anyone would dare to mislead America’s most famous reporter... more»
The South left its mark on Yankee culture, not all to the good. Woody Allen was worth admiring till he went southern and started sleeping with his kids... more»
“Sexual harassment” is what we’d call it today, but in the less-prissy 17th century it was a normal part of the rollicking life of Samuel Pepys... more»
Indian English adores English grammar: the subjunctive, vivid and racy idioms thrive in Bombay. Thus do Indians love P.G. Wodehouse... more»
Ingmar Bergman could charm us, says Woody Allen, but he made cinematic history facing the abyss: bleak landscapes and dark themes... more»
If opera is 49% theater, and theater is 100% acting, sets, and costumes, then there will be countless entry points for newcomers into opera... more»
Shakespeare and Sun Tzu are two of the authors slipped by the Pentagon into soldiers’ backpacks in readiness for the assault on Saddam... more»
Superstition persists: when a magic charm fails, blame is readily pinned on failing to use it properly. Success just shows charms really do work... more»
Moralists and health maniacs may nag us, but gluttony has a powerful pedigree in evolution and history. Excess is hallowed by antiquity. Eat on... more»
The confident “I” of the travel writer, the authoritative, reliable voice of a narrator, is no longer. It’s the end of travel literature as we knew it... more»
The clerk reaches under the counter for a Christmas card, his eyes darting about the empty shop. This is Saudi Arabia... more»
Dickens on film usually is a dark brown smudge: same old heavy costumes and musty sets. A new Nicholas Nickleby tries to break the mold... more»
The intellectual, the artist: there is a side of Adolf Hitler that we would rather not think about. It makes him too human, too much like us... more»
There are no good men left. The problem for 30ish women to find decent mates is more acute than ever. We need to reform the courtship system... more»
Postmodernism put the giggle back into architecture. And indeed laughter is the only sensible option in the face of some practitioners... more»
Thurmond and Lott’s politics were bad, but don’t whitewash what passed for anti-racism in the 1940s. Jim Sleeper looks at the bigger picture... more»
Woodrow Wilson’s racism was hardly a secret. His Lost Cause vision of a happy antebellum South fitted his turning down blacks applicants to Princeton... more»
Behavioral vitamins: It’s not that our life as human beings is doomed without them. But as Aristotle knew, we will never flourish in their absence... more»
Steinbeck swore by it, among myriad fans, the DeLorean gullwing coupe of pencils, an object of beauty and utility: the Eberhard Faber Blackwing 602... more» ... image
Holiday blues, suicide: topics liked by journos straining for an antidote to holiday cheer. And if we took them seriously?... bad taste advisory»
She’s a europhile, but not quite to the bone: spying the white cliffs, Jan Morris thinks of Shakespeare, the Spanish Armada, Darjeeling tea... more»
The therapeutic mentality that urges total revelation and fulfilling our needs and desires reduces others to mere obstacles in path to happiness. Get rid of them... more»
“Old prophecies speak of the death of God. Since Auschwitz we are more alone. We must create our values ourselves, day by day,” says Nobel winner Imre Kertész... more»
The best way to ensure that war becomes more frequent, says Niall Ferguson, would be for the United States to follow the European impulse and disarm... more»
The nightmare of freedom. For most of us, it’s an odd idea. But for a mentally disabled person thrown “into the community” for reasons of ideology and cost-cutting... more»
Opera composers know that special skill is needed for composing music. But words? Not as easy as composers think... more». Words aren’t opera’s only problem: there’s fog.
Washington is at war already, is planning the peace, and European hand-wringing is beside the point, says Timothy Garton Ash. After Iraq, a velvet revolution for Iran... more»
“Muslims? Wogs, savages, they know no better. Careful, since the slightest thing can set ’em off. Might be a novel, or a beauty contest.” This is true racism... more»
The Jesus Market: from the Last Supper jigsaw to mints wrapped in Scripture to well-scrubbed pop groups, it’s the schlocky world of Christian mechandising... more»
Suppose someone says, “They were just friends but they were hanging out sexually.” Is this slang? Is it somehow expressive? Cool, maybe? Is it, uh, I dunno, communication?... more»
If ripeness is all, then it may be that Elizabeth Taylor was put on earth to give flesh to the idea. Dame? Babe? Bombshell? Those terms don’t even come close... more»
For the wretched of the earth, it is painful that Americans are so rich. Solace is thus taken declaring that “We are more spiritual than you, we are a morally better sort”... more»
Public rages and mood swings, which include racist and anti-racist taboos, ought not to affect the criminal courts. Maybe it’s a lesson we’re learning, says Jim Sleeper... more»
Dogs best friend. That’s us, Homo suckerens. Dogs evolved as con artists, jolly parasites who convince their gullible masters how “smart” and “loving” they are... more»
Celebrity: as Clark Gable said to David Niven, when it comes to the contract between a star and his public, the public reads the fine print and the star doesn’t... more»
What an uncomfortable idea for the Left to face: America is the sine qua non of any future progress for mankind, no matter what direction that progress may take... more»
Even when obstinate and perverse, Glenn Gould never failed to fascinate, and when he was good, as in the 1955 version of the Goldbergs, he was incomparable... more»
A poetry reading is a “grisly thing,” said George Orwell: the disjointed preamble on the poet’s life, the odd, sing-song voice, the audience’s knowing murmurs... more»
Why worry about existence of God, Voltaire asked, when we can’t explain how we move our arms? “Doubt is not a very agreeable state, but certainty is a ridiculous one”... more»
Albrecht Dürer’s brain overflowed with apocalyptic fantasy, occult images, and religious terror. Melancholia was a condition of his genius... more» ... image.
Every woman needs a man. But how to choose? Is he dark or fair? Is the form of his nose sharp, melancholy, or refined? Ear lobes tell a story... more»
Goldwater conservatives long wandered in the wilderness. Corpulent, confident young conservatives of today have known only success... more»
War literature tends in the end to be antiwar literature. Men who have seen bloody combat rarely seem inclined to get romantic about it... more»
Darwins genius was not the mathematical sort of Newton or Einstein. It came from his keen eye and his limitless capacity to take pains... more»
American ballet as we know it was made by two Russians from the 19th century twilight who were steeped in classicism, folk life, and Orthodox faith... more»
Leon Trotsky held action must aim “to increase the power of humanity over nature and to abolish of the power of one person over another”... more»
Wheres Saddam? Maybe he’s consulting his favorite psychic, an old woman who says people want to kill him. Washington has a crystal ball too... more»
Union decline has gone along with the exploding “rights consciousness” in race and gender. In that sphere, union workers don’t count... more»
What happened 60 years ago in Germany couldn’t happen now. We’re smarter than Movietone extras who lived black-and-white lives... more»
Green-eyed monster: women forever compare clothes, kids, bodies, careers, husbands. They secretly hate the prettiest girl in the room... more»
The SUV is the car of choice for the nation’s most self-centered people: the bigger the SUV, the more of a jerk its driver is likely to be... more» ... more»
Fairy tales rarely endorse the Republican virtues of honesty and frugality: feckless, cunning sons who win unearned wealth are more preferred... more»
Dave Eggers’s tricks and foils worked in his first book because it was a tragic memoir. In his second, these devices are clumsy and uneven... more»
“Think of the novel as lover. Let’s stay home tonight and have fun. Just because you’re touched where you want to be touched, it doesn’t mean you’re cheap.” Hmmm... more»
Care for living things and leave to our children a world that makes a good life possible. Does Green philosophy require any more than this?... more»
Hitler, minus head, was buried in Magdeburg till secretly dug up, cremated, and flushed down the sewers in 1970. One detail of many... more»
Some young men drove tanks or flew bombers in the fight against the Nazis. Other went out to Hollywood in order to make movies... more»
The consumer was king in the Middle Ages, but the King was still the biggest consumer, along with high-living nobles on tax-free incomes... more»
Stephen Schwartz, mercurial, loud, passionate, erudite, wants the world to know how Saudi Wahhabism has used petro dollars to fuel hate... more» ... more»
How did Masud Khan turn from distinguished psychoanalyst into sadistic, lying, Jew-baiting, alcoholic thief, an indescribable creep... more»
“On the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog,” says a famous joke. But can one tell you’re a real human being, and not computer? Ah, well... more»
Amy Nguyen, American teen, strives for family honor and to please her mom and dad. But no dating? As her Bangladeshi friend, Nadia, says, “Dude, that so sucks”... more»
Spanking is used by both rich and poor parents: it’s just used rather less by the rich. Steven Landsburg on the economics of corporal punishment... more»
The Bermuda Triangle has seen any number of accidents so weird as to defy reason. Then again, so has the New Jersey Turnpike... more»
Sometime boyfriends. Women who live in New York City have their glamorous love lives all sorted out. Sometimes. Rebecca Eckler explains... more»
The Bush White House: kids on Big Wheels watched by Karl Rove, Oval Office Machiavelli. Here is Ron Suskind’s complete Esquire article. Prof. DiIulio now backpedals ... more» ... yet more»
Chinese do well with German music, Israelis can love Wagner, and Arab kids master the viola. Daniel Barenboim and Edward Said agree... more»
Orwell in China. Live onstage in Beijing, Animal Farm has audiences captivated and censors scratching their heads... more»
Are you a liberal? Have you joined the anti-war movement? Or have you not yet managed to find an anti-war movement you’d care to join?... more»
Creationists need guts to claim the earth is young and people ran around with dinosaurs. But there’s another more sneaky kind of creationism... more»
Ivan Illich, controversialist whose radical critique of education influenced a graying generation, is dead... more»
It’s a “political responsibility” to achieve target growth figures in China. Local officials thus make them up. So much for Chinas fabled growth... more»
Someone would have figured out special relativity eventually. But general relativity? Without Albert Einstein, we’d still be stumbling in the dark... more»
Egomania, temper tantrums, back-stabbing, greed, and Rosie O’Donnell, the Queen of Nice. We all love stories of the magazine business... more»
John Rawls, philosopher who most powerfully advocated the liberal political perspective, is dead... Harvard ... NYTimes ... Crimson ... London Times ... Telegraph ... Economist ... Le Monde ... Samuel Freeman ... Alan Ryan ... Richard Epstein ... Ben Rogers ... Joshua Cohen ... Jim Holt ... Eric Alterman ... Clive Crook. Essays: Martha Nussbaum, Tom Nagel, Peter Berkowitz, Phineas Upham. More links from Perlentaucher.
Islamic anti-semitism enters a new phase with the phony Protocols on Egyptian TV. But terrorism needs more than lies, says Richard Webster... more»
These days, Osama bin Laden’s messages to the world are available strictly on audio. It’s an awkward situation, as Mark Steyn explains... more». Seriously, it’s not Osama.
The Peoples Princess: her deep inner emptiness reflected her vacuous fans. She was “loved” and “admired” because her tastes, emotions, and responses were so banal... more»
No U.S. president can afford to betray suffering, physical disability, or weakness. Kennedy grasped this fact and had the courage and stamina to act on it... more» ... interview
We may think genuine innovators are loners who don’t need reinforcement. But that’s not how it works, whether it’s science, politics, ideas, or television comedy... more»
Keep government small, said skeptic Michael Oakeshott. No one can know enough to govern adequately, so let us limit the potential of our masters to do damage... more»
“Being in Iraq is like creeping around inside someone else’s migraine,” says a veteran BBC reporter. “The fear is so omnipresent, you can almost eat it”... more»
The sources of human misery are not found in limits on food or metals or energy, but in corruption, barriers to trade, and war. Bjørn Lomborg and Olivier Rubin explain... more»
Critical fads and MLA “star” sessions always annoyed Morris Dickstein. The theory years mark a low point in literary history: brand marketing, not scholarship... more»
None of the orchestral effects of Olivier or Mozartian babbling of Gielgud in the voice of Alec Guinness. Yet he made you listen intensely... more»
Modernity is its own worst enemy, says Stanley Rosen. Plato and the ancients could bring a new sense of nobility to the modern project... more»
British ex-pats in India are still a caste unto themselves, with barefoot servants to fill their drinks through long, hot nights of rambling talk... more»
Henry Louis Mencken was a force of nature. He seized each day, shook it to within an inch of its life, and gaily went on to the next... more» ... more»
Consciousness was always central to philosophy, even in the wacko decades of Watson and Skinner. David Lodge thinks it a recent discovery... more»
A history of sex crimes shows that people have been forever prepared to try sex with just about anyone, including Satan and the odd cow... more»
We regard Hinduism as one of the world’s ancient religions. In fact, the term is a catch-all category coined by the British in the 19th century... more»
Hanging out with white friends and talking too properly: two of the gripes black students have about their high-achieving black peers... more»
Writers, here’s how you sell it: anecdote, set-up graf, scene, digression, quote from some academic. Conform, or else. Kill fees wont pay the rent... more»
Autism (geek syndrome, they call it in Silicon Valley), is little more than male attributes taken to extreme. Men analyze, women empathize... more»
Michael Kinsley wasn’t cut out to be a National Book Awards judge. That Melville bio looked inviting, but Kinsley’s still working on Moby-Dick... more»
An emotional gulf now yawns between Europe and the U.S., says Jürgen Habermas. Both sides need less caricature, more communication... more»
“Don’t ask us what made God,” say the scientists. It seems a grand unified theory of the universe may in the end need both science and religion... more»
Whether from the White House, or the whiter-than-white house, arguments for and against attacking Iraq are pathetic. A plague on both sides, says Mick Hume... more»
Writers roam the borderlands of fact and imagination at will, many a critic seeming not to care. Yet we must distinguish truth from fiction, says Timothy Garton Ash... more»
Bush must tell Blair to ring M, get Q up to speed on the gadgetry and locate Bond. He’ll be in formal wear, cigarette in hand at the blackjack table, eyeing a gorgeous... more»
Bewitched by clothes. “As I stand in front of a rail of garments, a trance descends on me. I look down on myself in a kind of near clothes-buying experience”... more»
It’s bad-faith Darwinism to insist that we need evolution in Kansas schools, but must not use it to understand the genesis of our own capacities and emotions... more»
Daisy-cutters and cluster bombs, missiles butchering wedding parties: a year after the Taliban left their hot dinners and ran, Polly Toynbee asks, Was it worth it?... more»
Okay, we now know the butler didn’t do it. A bigger question remains: beyond providing the tabloids with tittle-tattle, whats the point of Britains monarchy?... more»
One lover showed she was still a woman in every natural and desirable way. Another laughingly said she should “do it for a living.” So at 57, she became an escort... more»
Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s view of Jewish history has not endeared him to religious liberals. Now he takes Russia and the Jews head on... more»
Marcel Proust: playboy-monk who lived by strict routines, aesthete who was sexually excited to see caged rats being stabbed with hatpins... more»
Roger Scruton sees the West’s real enemies: fanatics united in artificial borders by brutal tyrants. Alas, his remedy is less clear-eyed... more»
“Who’d rather learn the facts of Augustus’ imperial policy than discover he had spots on his stomach?” asked W.H. Auden. We all love gossip... more»
Here’s an unusual message to the Left from one of its own: What the world’s poorest need now, says Peter Singer, is more globalization... more»
Freudianism. Max Beerbohm’s view of it was expressed in ten perfect words: “A tense and peculiar family, the Oedipuses, were they not?”... more»
If Patricia Cornwell is proved wrong about Walter Sickert being Jack the Ripper, “I will look terrible,” she says. Yes, indeed... more» ... previous»
Astronomy long ago passed through its amateur phase and went professional. Yet a golden age of amateur astronomy may still lie in the future... more»
Quick Studies shows a no-man’s land between tabloid gossip and academic treatise: a place where ideas and people collide explosively... more»
Did the first doctor to attempt blood transfusion have a good idea? Well, it was the 17th century, and a good idea before its time is a bad idea... more»
History fads: labor, class, and race are in, diplomatic history is out. Great Man history? Don’t even think about it. But biography persists... more»
Do you only use 10% of your brain? The answer must be yes, if you accept the health claims of homeopaths and magnet salesmen... more»
A typical yuppie drinks French wine, listens to Beethoven on Japanese audio, buys Persian textiles on the Web. Suits Tyler Cowen just fine... more»
“I think that if I’d known what it would be like, I’d never have agreed to do this column.” Paul Krugman is both admired and reviled... more»
Novelists escape from reality into richly populated fantasy worlds, and so do players of the remarkably realistic computer game, The Sims... more»
E pluribus umbrage. From the Irish, hurt by Barry Fitzgerald images, to Arabs to Jews, worry about ethnic pain, or ethnic jokes, is an industry... more»
Not every Greek poet was a Pindar. Posidippus, who wrote of love, wine, and horse racing, is a gauge of popular taste, 3rd century B.C... more»
An Unbeautiful Mind. Once the most brilliant and admired chess player in the world, Bobby Fischer has sunk into a cesspit of delusion and hate... more»
“Like all junkies,” says David Lovibond, “my most important relationship is with my dealer.” Book collecting has its lows, but the highs are bliss... more»
If Americans don’t really want an empire, it’s not that they are selfless, says Alan Wolfe. They are just not interested in the rest of the world... more»
L’insécurité, les incivilités, et les violences urbaines. A vast, horrifying chasm has opened between France and La Zone, a foreign country within... more»
Did Yann Martel steal the plot of his Booker winner from a Brazilian author? Reporters who look at the “scandal” might first try reading the books... more»
Some economics profs will tell students to eat their spinach and read the textbook. Others assign novels to explain theory. Still others, alas, write novels... more»
Margaret Truman is a talented author, if she’s the one who actually wrote all those crime novels. It’s a bigger if than most readers know... more»
Modern health problems are often said to result from an “unnatural” human diet. But there is no single, optimal diet for our species... more»
It performs with style and spirit, but the Iraq Philharmonic’s devoted audience is dwindling. At least no cellphones go off in the concerts... more»
So what did Afghans do first when the Taliban fell? Dig up buried VCRs to watch cheesy Indian soaps. So human, says Francis Fukuyama... more»
Students whose style is lucid are writing unintelligible bilge by the time they’ve finished a Ph.D in English. Frederick Crews on junk academia... more»
With its humor and sadness, A House for Mr. Biswas is as alive as wild grass sprouting in the tropical sun. V.S. Naipaul never quite equaled it again... more»
You’d imagine when Nature puts its imprimatur on an article, the science behind it is sound. And you’d be wrong. Consider freaky frogs... more»
Quantum mechanics: we’ve long known the rules of this particular chess game, but we’re just starting to be able to play with any skill... more»
“Culture” used to mean Plato and Mozart. Anthropologists then applied it to all human custom. Now chimps are in on the act... more»
Stripping, the upside: men are in your power. Patriarchy totters. Peep show dancing is a free and flagrant display of beauty... more»
That humanity is hopelessly inane is shown by Puritanism, said H.L. Mencken: “gross and nauseating hypocrisies, idiotic theologies, moral obsessions”... more»
The Roosevelt/Churchill policy on Russia seemed a mistake, but won in the end, as Stalin’s Cold War led to the end of communism... more»
Could H.G.Wells have written 1,324 pages in a year? Well, maybe. Or perhaps the Great Man was in fact a plagiarist... more»
Obliterating the self in order to know is the morality of all science since Descartes, and is an especially Victorian motif... more»
Only a god can save us. Well, maybe. But we might want to take a cue or two in our moral lives from movies, poetry, and even baseball... more»
The Lunar Men discovered oxygen and digitalis, gave us steam power, soda water, and laughing gas, dug canals, railed against slavery... more»
Aristotle and Kant gave us our idea of liberal justice, which is at odds with a Romantic view of war and defense. In an age of terrorism... more»
Moby-Dick is a thinking man’s whale, just as Captain Ahab is a thinking whale’s man. For Melville, malice is the mark of the whale’s intelligence... more»
Leon Kass’s questions for bioethics will strike many as fussy or grandiose. He’s a kind of Jeremiah: brave, even wise perhaps, but doomed... more»
Instead of trying so hard to laugh at the U.S., European pundits ought to look at the real enemies of laughter. It’s perfectly right to abhor, belittle, and subdue them... more»
How wrong is it to kill an animal for food? It may depend on whether the beast has a sense of a future and its preferences in it. Eat the chicken, spare the pig... more»
“Major funding for this program has been provided by Sominex.” That’s right, it’s yet another vapid, cliché-ridden, tedious, moralizing PBS documentary series... more»
“I haven’t made my peace with the inevitability of death, and I doubt I ever will,” says Jacques Derrida. The idea of mortality permeates his life... more»
The famous philosopher listened briefly to Daniel Kahneman, then snubbed him, saying, “I am not really interested in the psychology of stupidity.” Not very smart... more»
Dear Christopher, The next time you put on your Orwell costume for the TV cameras, I hope you’ll put on his fairness and modesty too... more»
Dear Gore, You may think there are armies of maggots beneath the skin of our culture. I think you’ve reached your late Ezra Pound period... more». Vidal’s essay.
Dear Naomi, You write well for an angry adolescent, but your tirades against free trade need to show how you intend to help the world’s poor... more»
U.S. strength, properly used, will have benefits. Anti-Americanism will be reduced by a win in Iraq to its proper place: a pastime of cranks and malcontents... more»
Ancient epics recycled old stories, while modern novelists claimed their stories were new and unique, says David Lodge. They thus gave birth to a new psychology... more»
Lets roll: the last known words of the brave Todd Beamer. But does the phrase refer to a lifestyle? Is it a chant for Wal-Mart staff? What’s going on?... more»


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